CHAVEZ: CASTRO IN 'GREAT BATTLE FOR LIFE'
August 10, 2006
CARACAS, Venezuela - Venezuelan
President Hugo Chavez said Thursday his close friend and ally Fidel
Castro is in a "great battle for life," but he also expressed optimism about the 79-year-old Cuban leader's
"From here, let's pray to
God for Fidel and his recovery, and he's fighting a great battle," Chavez said in a televised speech from the eastern state
Chavez said he had received
a message from Castro on Wednesday "that filled me with more optimism, with more faith."
"Among other things Fidel
told me ... 'I keep saying Chavez, God help Chavez and his friends,'" Chavez said.
"I wrote to him in my own
handwriting last night, in the early morning, to send it with the messenger who was returning immediately: 'You are fighting
a great battle every day, all these nights," Chavez said.
Castro said July 31 he was
stepping aside temporarily, granting his powers to his brother Raul as head of the government and the Communist Party so he
could recover from intestinal surgery.
Neither brother has been
seen in public since then. Details of Castro's condition, his ailment and the surgical procedure he underwent are being treated
as a "state secret."