Cuban officials deny country is unstable

Aug. 8, 2006 at 10:27 AM

SANTIAGO DE CUBA, Cuba, Aug. 8 (UPI) -- Cuban government officials are denying the country is unstable with leader Fidel Castro hospitalized and his condition a state secret.

In Bogota, Cuban National Assembly President Ricardo Alarcon dismissed claims by Cuban exiles in Miami and the Bush administration who say the Communist government cannot long survive without Castro at the helm, the New York Times reported.

Carlos Lage Davila, the minister in charge of the island's economy, also said Monday Castro was recovering rapidly and would be able to return to his duties "in a short time," Mexico's and Cuba's official news agencies reported.

The 79-year-old Castro had surgery early last week for an undisclosed condition that caused intestinal bleeding. He ceded power to his younger brother, Raul.

Meanwhile in Cuba's second largest city, Santiago, the Miami Herald reported high-spirited confidence was nowhere to be found.

"There is a lot of uncertainty here," a Catholic priest told the newspaper. "Not knowing exactly what's happening is the main source of anxiety ... The people are very worried, even if it doesn't appear like that."

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