Castro comes back after collapse

by BBC Monday, Jul. 09, 2001 at 9:21 AM

President Castro climbs to make his latest speech

Castro comes back af...
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Saturday, 7 July, 2001, 23:49 GMT 00:49 UK

Castro comes back after collapse

By Daniel Schweimler in Havana

Cuban President Fidel Castro has spoken at an open air rally for the first time since he fainted at a podium two weeks ago.

It took place in front of 20,000 flag-waving supporters in Bejucal, near the capital Havana.

Again it was under a blazing sun and he was wearing his customary military uniform and no hat.

But he spoke for less than 10 minutes, unusual for a man who used to talk regularly for seven or eight hours.

He said the Cuban revolution was not built by one man, but by millions of Cubans who would defend it until the last drop of blood.

It was another reference to life after Fidel, a subject that has consumed the Cuban people since their 74-year-old president's collapse.

That physical lapse was the first sign of weakness in the only leader most Cubans have ever known; the first sign that President Castro was not invincible.

Successor watched

He made a quick recovery appearing on television that same evening and at smaller, more comfortable functions in the past few days.

But since he fainted the Cuban people, both his supporters on the Caribbean island and his enemies in the United States, have been watching him closely.

They have also been watching his official successor, his younger brother Raul, who now seems to be appearing more frequently in public and, unusually, alongside Fidel.

Officially President Castro is fit and healthy but for the first time the Cuban authorities and the Cuban people are recognising that he will not be there for ever.

Original: Castro comes back after collapse