Sunday, December 31st 2006 - 20:00 UTC

Castro admits “slow recovery from surgery” in message

Cuban President Fidel Castro said in his New Year message on Saturday that he is recovering slowly from surgery and has been collaborating with doctors as “a disciplined patient”.

"Concerning my recovery I always said it would be a long process, but it is far from being a lost battle," he said in the message congratulating the Cuban people on the 48th anniversary of the Revolution. The 80-year-old leader handed over control of the country to his brother Raul in July, when he underwent urgent intestinal surgery for a yet undisclosed ailment which is kept as a "State secret" in Cuba. President Castro traditionally sends a message broadcast by state TV and radio to Cubans on New Year's Eve to mark the anniversary of the 1 January 1959 revolution that brought him to power. "I have not stopped being in the loop on main events and information. I have had exchanges with our closest comrades always when co-operation has been necessary on vitally important issues" the statement read. In the message Castro also underlines the "serenity and maturity with which the Cuban people have acted and the work displayed by our glorious party, the revolution government and our mass and youth organizations", as well as members of the Armed Forces, Ministry of Interior and Parliament. Castro said that 2006 has been a year of "great efforts and encouraging results" in the different social fields of Cuba as has been the program "Energy Revolution", the name of the plan for the renewal of the current energy production infrastructure, distribution and consumption. The leader praised the role played by Cuba as host for the Non Aligned Summit in Havana last September and highlighted "our sustained resistance to the (US economic and trade) blockade and the empire's aggressions". "Nothing has been able to impede us from the path we have undertaken", said Castro who also thanked Cubans for their "love and support". "Humanity is undergoing difficult times, with war and dangers that surge all over the place as well as the unbridled consumer process, typical of the globalized imperial system", which is rapidly exhausting natural resources and contaminating. "This, by itself, justifies our heroic struggle", he said adding that each success demands even greater efforts to ensure them and develop them. "We need the maximum cooperation and social discipline". "Long live the Revolution", concludes the message. Speculation about Castro's medical condition has been rife. Although Mr Castro's health is a state secret, Cuban officials have said that he is not suffering from cancer or any terminal illness, and that he is recuperating. A diagnose recently confirmed by a top visiting Spanish surgeon.

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