Former Venezuelan Vice President Elias Jaua said today that he met with aging revolutionary icon Fidel Castro for five hours and showed the AP photos of the encounter, quashing persistent rumors that the former Cuban leader was on his deathbed or had suffered a massive stroke. Jaua also confirmed that the 86-year-old retired Cuban president personally accompanied him to the Hotel Nacional after their meeting yesterday, in which they talked about politics, history, culture and tourism.
"He had the courtesy of bringing me to the hotel," Jaua said, adding that Castro looked "very well." Jaua showed a photograph of himself seated in a minibus along with the former Cuban leader, Castro's wife, Dalia Soto del Valle, a hotel executive and several other people. The photo shows Jaua and Castro smiling broadly, and the former Cuban leader is wearing a checked shirt and cowboy hat. Castro's health has been the subject of intense speculation in recent days, with one doctor claiming that he has suffered a stroke.