Official Puts Castro's Absence at 'Some Weeks' National Assembly of Cuba president Ricardo Alarcon says it will be "some weeks" until Fidel Castro returns to power. The Cuban president is recovering from surgery after giving his brother, Raul Castro, responsibility for running the country until he's back on his feet.

Official Puts Castro's Absence at 'Some Weeks'

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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Michele Norris.


And I'm Melissa Block.

Cubans today saw only reruns of a televised government statement saying Fidel Castro's health was stable after surgery. In an interview with NPR, the president of Cuba's National Assembly, Ricardo Alarcon, filled in some of the blanks surround Castro and his transfer of power to his brother, Raul, who has not yet appeared in public.

Alarcon said Castro would resume full power in a matter of weeks. He insisted Castro is still participating in decision making.

NORRIS: Coming up, we'll talk with the U.S. Commerce Secretary, who co-chairs an American commission on Cuba, but first the president of the Cuban National Assembly. When I spoke with him earlier, he confirmed that Castro's surgery took place this past weekend. Alarcon said he met with Castro Monday afternoon in person.

Mr. RICARDO ALARCON (Cuban National Assembly): Well, he's perfectly back. Mentally speaking, he's not - for a person that has just gone through surgery, he was very, very alive. He's spirited and alert, even to take care of making some decisions that he himself wrote down on a paper that was read last Monday evening. But I don't know. I don't know physically what he requires. For sure, it will take some weeks. How many weeks? Who knows?

NORRIS: You've spoken about this and the official statements have described this as a temporary transfer of power, so is there a belief that Fidel Castro will return? It is indeed a temporary transfer?

Mr. ALARCON: I would not use the words transfer of power. Really, the wording is provisionally handing over certain functions to others, because he simply cannot perform those function at the same time that he's forced to rest.

NORRIS: Here in the U.S. there's been quite a bit of speculation about Fidel Castro's health. What more can you tell us about the surgery and his ailment? What kind of surgery did he undergo?

Mr. ALARCON: He explained to me what happens to him some, but he's better than I in those areas. I really don't know. But you know, this story of speculations and so on has to do with something that should be the real concern of people in the U.S., because more than the particulars of the health of another person is the very sick policy of pretending to dictate the destiny of somebody else. That's very serious, because that is tantamount to war, to intervention, to violence. That should be avoided. And it is not certainly in the best interest of the peoples of Cuba, but not in the interest of the people in the United States, in my opinion.

NORRIS: Where is Raoul Castro right now and when will the people of Cuba hear from him?

Mr. ALARCON: He's in Havana. Where is Mr. Cheney now?

NORRIS: You're asking about Vice President Dick Cheney?


NORRIS: Well -

Mr. ALARCON: Where's Dick Cheney?

NORRIS: Well, I think if power was provisionally handed to Vice President Cheney, the American people would expect to hear from him in short order, so I'm wondering when the people of Cuba will hear from Raoul Castro?

Mr. ALARCON: Because nobody is threatening the U.S. Nobody's they saying that the U.S. should not have that person as president, as vice president. That is difference.

NORRIS: The simple question though that I asked earlier is when will the Cuban public hear from Raoul Castro? When do you expect that to happen?

Mr. ALARCON: Well, it's our business. It depends on his time. We don't operate on the basis of entertaining American media.

NORRIS: Well, the question was in regard not just to when he plans to speak to reporters, but when the people of Cuba will actually hear from him.

Mr. ALARCON: When he so wishes.

NORRIS: Ricardo Alarcon, thank you very much for speaking with us.

Mr. ALARCON: You are welcome, Michele.

NORRIS: That was Ricardo Alarcon. He's president of the National Assembly in Cuba.

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