MADRID, Spain - Ailing Cuban leader Fidel Castro is in "very grave" condition
after three failed operations and complications from an intestinal infection, a
Spanish newspaper said Tuesday.
The newspaper El Pais cited two
unnamed sources from the Gregorio Maranon hospital in the Spanish capital of
Madrid. The facility employs surgeon Jose Luis Garcia Sabrido, who flew to Cuba
in December to treat the 80-year-old Castro.
Cuban President Fidel Castro holds a
Cuban flag at the beginning of his speech in this Saturday July 26, 2003
file photo in Santiago de Cuba, eastern Cuba. [AP]
In a report published on its Web site, El Pais said: "A grave infection in
the large intestine, at least three failed operations and various complications
have left the Cuban leader, Fidel Castro, laid up with a very grave
Cuba has released little information on Castro's condition since he
temporarily ceded power in July to his brother, Defense Minister Raul Castro,
until he could recover from emergency intestinal surgery, prompting much
speculation and rumor in the country and around the world.
El Pais' report, which could not immediately be confirmed, was a rare
detailed description from a major media outlet about Castro's condition.
The US government had speculated that Castro could suffer from cancer -- a
supposition denied by Sabrido. Some US doctors believed Castro was suffering
from diverticular disease, which can cause bleeding in the lower intestine,
especially in people over 60. In severe cases, emergency surgery may be
That idea was supported by El Pais, which reported that its sources said
Castro had suffered a bout of the disease.
"In the summer, the Cuban leader bled abundantly in the intestine," El Pais
reported. "This adversity led him to the operating table, according to the
medical sources. His condition, moreover, was aggravated because the infection
spread and caused peritonitis, the inflammation of the membrane that covers the
El Pais said that in December, when Garcia Sabrido visited, Castro had an
abdominal wound that was leaking more than a pint of fluids a day, causing "'a
severe loss of nutrients." The Cuban leader was being fed intravenously, the
A statement attributed to Castro was released on New Year's Eve saying his
recovery was "far from being a lost battle."
Cuban officials told visiting US lawmakers last month that Castro does not
have cancer or a terminal illness and will eventually return to public life,
although it was not clear whether he would return to the same kind of absolute
control as before.