Wednesday, January 17, 2007

And then there was Chavez

There is a certain and slightly depressing predictability about the latest news regarding the state of health (or otherwise) of Fidel Castro.

First comes the report in a normally reliable media outlet - in this case, an extensive article in the Spanish daily, El Pais, quoting medical soruces in Madrid as saying the 80-year-old dictator is "grave".

Then comes the denial by ... Hugo Chavez.

The Venezuelan president, who claims to keep in touch regularly with Castro, says his mentor is not near death at all but on his way to a full recovery. Of sorts. And Chavez blames the latest reports about Castro's deteriorating health on "the Empire". Naturally.

"I'm not a doctor," Chavez assured reporters in Quito. "And I'm not at Fidel's bedside but he's not in a serious condition as some say, nor does he have cancer. It's a slow recovery process not without risk. He's 80 years old."

Of course, only a few weeks ago Chavez was telling reporters that Castro had made such a terrific revocery, the old man was back in his customary uniform, giving orders on the phone, joking with advisers and visiting Havana neighbourhoods at night to check everything was fine.

So, take your pick ...


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