Eldest Castro Brother Says Fidel Doing Well

Wednesday, March 28th 2007, 8:35 pm
By: News On 6

HAVANA (AP) _ Ramon Castro said Wednesday that his younger brother Fidel was doing very well almost eight months after surgery, but jokingly dodged reporters' questions about whether the leader would soon appear in public.

``He's in one piece,'' the 82-year-old Ramon said of 80-year-old Fidel as he toured a cattlemen's fair and rodeo with his good friend John Parke Wright, a Florida cattleman. ``These Castros are strong!''

Ramon Castro is a longtime farmer and rancher who has never served in a major government position. Wearing a white guayabera dress shirt, brown slacks and a cowboy hat, he looked a lot like his younger brother Fidel, with the same Romanesque profile and thinning white beard.

Puffing on a cigar as reporters trailed him at the fair, Ramon joked when asked if Fidel would appear in public soon.

``Calm down; don't make wrinkles that no one is going to iron out later!'' the elder Castro said, eliciting laughter.

Bolivian President Evo Morales said this month that he expects Fidel Castro will soon return to public life _ perhaps even the presidency _ by April 28, when a meeting of several regional leaders is planned in Havana.

Fidel Castro temporarily ceded power to his younger brother Raul, the 75-year-old defense minister, on July 31 after announcing he had undergone intestinal surgery. He has not appeared in public since.

Fidel's health condition and his exact ailment are state secrets, but he is commonly believed to suffer from diverticular disease, a weakening of the walls of the colon common in older people.