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Home >> World
UPDATED: 11:14, January 29, 2007
Cuban public calm on Castro's health
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Joaquin Fernandez Pouso, a taxi driver in Havana, likes waiting for passengers in the hotels of downtown Havana, where thousands of foreign tourists visit everyday.

"The business is good," Pouso told Xinhua, with a smile on his face.

Despite heated speculation on the health of Cuban paramount leader Fidel Castro by the international press, the life on the island continues unchanged -- calm and peaceful as usual.

In the meantime, foreign tourists, many of which are from Europe, continue to pour into the sunny, picturesque Caribbean island nation.

On Jan. 16, the Spanish newspaper El Daris cited two doctors from the Gregorio Maranon hospital in Madrid as saying that Castro was in a "very grave" condition after three failed operations and complications from an intestinal infection. The report ignited further speculation over Castro's health.

Later on, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, a close friend and political ally of Castro, made it clear on at least two occasions that he had spoken with the Cuban leader and said that the iron man even could walk for "more time" than him.

"My guests often ask this question (on Castro's health), and I believe he is recovering," said Pouso.

After Castro handed over power to his younger brother Raul and several other Cuban leaders last year, a remarkably smooth transfer of daily government has already taken place and the country's economy and society remain on track.

Pouso said his company, Taxi OK, has raked in handsome profits thanks to the arrivals of more and more foreign tourists who love the Caribbean sunshine.

Posted on the windows of supermarkets and shops in Havana are images of Castro, who has led the country for nearly half a century. Some posters read "Viva Fidel, 80 more years."

It's been six months since Fidel Castro, 80, has not been seen in public. His last public appearance and speech was on July 26 last year to commemorate the 53rd anniversary of the assault on the Moncada barracks in Santiago, Cuba -- an event considered to be the beginning of the Cuban Revolution.

The Cuban media often mention Castro, who had an intestinal operation on July 27 last year. Last Monday, Cuba's official newspaper Granma carried a three-page story recalling Castro's historical visit to Venezuela in 1959. But the report failed to provide information about his health.

The Cuban government has pledged to ensure the "continuity" of its domestic and foreign policies after Castro's temporary handover of the supreme power. It seems that Cubans have been reassured.

"Even if Fidel passed way some day in the future, the beautiful things (referring to the Cuban's system and policy) will remain," said a teacher, who declined to give her name.

"My mother told me about the poor life she led when she was young and the big gap between the rich and poor at that time. I'm sure my country would not come back to those days," she added.

"I don't worry about the fate of my country even if Fidel was not around, the next generation of leaders will take over," said Luis, a retired diplomat who declined to give his full name.

"Just like China, when Chairman Mao (Zedong) passed away, Deng Xiaoping followed up," said Luis, who had once worked in China.

Source: Xinhua

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