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Castro says he is gaining back weight - newspaper

Written by: Staff

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina, Sep 14 (Reuters) Cuban President Fidel Castro is well enough to get out of his hospital bed and has started putting on weight again, according to an interview published in an Argentine newspaper today.

The 80-year-old leader has not appeared in public since undergoing emergency intestinal surgery in late July, handing power temporarily to his brother Raul.

Photos in leftist daily Pagina 12 showed a thin-looking Castro wearing a dressing gown. He told Argentine journalist and lawmaker Miguel Bonasso: ''I lost 41 pounds, but I'm putting weight back on -- already almost half of what I lost.'' In his first media interview since the surgery, Castro said he was still able to give orders. ''I can still talk pretty loudly if I want to,'' he was quoted as saying.

''You have to do things one step at a time. You have to remember that the machine being repaired is 80 years old,'' he joked, regarding the pace of his recovery.

He told the interviewer he was optimistic that Venezuela, which is led by his leftist ally Hugo Chavez, could secure a nonpermanent seat at the UN Security Council. ''They're not going to be able to block its entry,'' he said.

''Chavez has been building an indestructible model. He doesn't represent an extreme form of socialism, but a realistic one,'' he added.


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