, HAVANA, Mar 23 – Despite health concerns that led him to surrender the presidency, Cuba\’s iconic leader Fidel Castro is "doing well for his age," according to his brother Raul Castro, the current president.
"He does exercises every day. He is more disciplined than ever because now he eats his meals at more reasonable hours," Raul Castro said during a trip to the eastern town of Mayari, according to footage broadcast on Cuban national television.
"He goes to bed very early and doesn\’t work until seven or eight in the morning like he used to," he said.
The Cuban president, 78, made the remarks in response to comments from a student who said she dreamed of meeting "our Commander," the father of Cuba\’s 1959 revolution.
Raul Castro told the student that his brother still suffered from health problems related to an accident in 2004, when the 84-year-old ex-revolutionary fell and broke his shoulder and knee.
"He couldn\’t write for a while, but now he can lift his hand very high and write very well," the Cuban leader said.
"He reads and writes a lot and I could say that for his age, he\’s doing very well," he added.
Despite the assurances, Fidel Castro\’s health remains a matter of constant speculation.
The revolutionary leader has not made a public appearance since the end of July 2006 and underwent a serious intestinal operation that forced him to cede power to his brother.
Visiting political leaders have met with him, and photos of the meetings, including most recently with Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, have been made public.
But while he has receded from public life in some ways, the former president has since 2007 authored "reflections" for publication in local media and online.
They contain his thoughts on developments from political news in the region, to US policy, the environment and the global financial crisis.