Video: Cuban TV shows Castro with Chavez

By Producer
NBC News
updated 1/30/2007 7:36:55 PM ET 2007-01-31T00:36:55

Cuban TV on Tuesday broadcast new video of Fidel Castro meeting with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

The images, first shown on Tuesday's "Mesa Redonda" (“Round Table”) talk show, are the first of Castro since video released Oct. 28.

Shortly after that video was released Castro reportedly suffered a major setback in his recovery from intestinal surgery in July. There has been no official information on his condition, but speculation had the 80-year-old at death's door.

Castro announced July 31 that he had undergone intestinal surgery and was provisionally ceding power to his younger brother Raul.

In the Oct. 28 video, Castro looked frail and gaunt. In Tuesday’s pictures, Castro is standing, appears to have gained a bit of weight and looks generally stronger than in previous pictures, though his speech sounds slurred. Dressed in a red, white and blue track suit, Castro is also shown sitting and drinking orange juice.

The report said the 10-minute video clip was taped on Monday, in a two-hour private meeting that was not previously publicized. Chavez said in the video that the meeting took place on Monday and began at 3 p.m. A booklet Chavez is holding in the video is dated Saturday.

The Cuban public has generally complained that they are being kept in the dark, with no updates on Castro’s health status. The October video had underscored concern here that was not recovering and might never.

Tuesday's video comes a day after the Miami Herald reported that city officials in Miami are planning a giant party at the Orange Bowl to officially celebrate his death. The video may be Castro’s answer to that announcement.

Chavez said he found his friend to be "of good humor, with a good face and in good spirits." He said the pair discussed a variety of issues, including the world's energy crisis and that Castro showed "much clarity, as always in his ideas and analysis."

Castro's medical condition is a state secret, but Cuban authorities deny he suffers from terminal cancer, as U.S. intelligence officials have claimed.

The latest images seemed also to be aimed at knocking down the most recent round of reports about Castro's health, including a report in the Spanish newspaper El Pais earlier this month that described his health as "grave."

Citing two medical sources at Madrid's Gregorio Maranon hospital, the newspaper said the intestinal operation failed when a suture burst, leaving the Cuban leader in grave condition. Cuban officials have denied the account.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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