Image: Raul Castro.
Rafael Perez  /  Reuters file
Raul Castro, Cuba's acting president and brother of Fidel Castro, is seen at a ceremony in Havana in this Dec. 7, 2003, photograph.
updated 8/18/2006 7:36:38 AM ET 2006-08-18T11:36:38

In his first public comments since becoming Cuba’s acting president, Raul Castro said his brother Fidel is recovering and that thousands of troops were mobilized soon after his illness was announced, according to an interview published Friday.

Raul Castro, 75, thanked the doctors and others who have cared for his brother, saying they “have attended to him in an excellent manner ... with much love and dedication. This has been a very important factor in Fidel’s progressive recovery.”

Raul Castro, the nation’s Defense Minister, said he mobilized the island nation’s troops in the hours after his brother’s illness was announced July 31.

“We could not rule out the risk of somebody going crazy, or even crazier, within the U.S. government,” he told Lazaro Barredo, editor of the Communist Party’s Granma newspaper.

“I decided to substantially raise our combative capacity ... including the mobilization of several tens of thousands of reservists and militia members, and the proposal to our principal units of regular troops, including the Special Troops, of missions demanded by the political/military situation that has been created,” he added.

A noticeable but still discreet increase in the number of reservists on Cuba’s streets was evident in the first days after it was announced Fidel had undergone intestinal surgery. Cubans were asked to affirm their allegiance to the government and willingness to fight for it in the event of an attack.

Ailment treated as a 'state secret'
Raul Castro, has been at his brother’s side since launching the revolution with the attack on the Moncada military barracks in 1953 and fought with him in the Sierra Maestra mountains against the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista. As No. 2 man in the government, the younger Castro is constitutionally designated to replace his brother permanently should he die or be permanently incapacitated.

The government has treated Fidel Castro’s ailment, his exact condition and the type of surgery he underwent as a “state secret.”

While Fidel Castro recovers, “absolute tranquility is reigning in the country,” the younger brother said.

“And something even more important, the serene, disciplined and decisive attitude that can be felt in every workplace, in every city, in every neighborhood,” he said. “The same one that our people always assume in moments of difficulty.”

The younger Castro said that the Cuban people’s calm manner in the more than two weeks following his brother’s illness “reminded me of the conduct of the Cuban people during the heroic days of the so-called Missile Crisis in October 1962.”

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