January 13, 2015 / 12:37 AM / 3 years ago

Maradona says got letter from Fidel Castro, halting death rumors

CARACAS (Reuters) - Fidel Castro sent a letter to Diego Maradona, Venezuelan-based TV reported in an interview with the Argentine soccer great on Monday, quashing rumors that the former Cuban leader had died.

Former Argentine soccer star Diego Maradona arrives at the Cuban Institute of Radio and Television (ICRT) for the recording of a TV show in Havana January 10, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer

The elder Castro had not been heard from nor seen in public since his brother Raul’s historic U.S.-Cuba rapprochement last month, and the silence has re-ignited speculation about his health.

“Fidel is doing very well,” Maradona told the regional Telesur station, as he held up the letter. “Here’s the signature ... I’m showing it to you so you can show it to the world.”

Chatter about his demise has dogged Castro periodically since the 1959 Cuban revolution, but became more frequent in recent years because of health problems that forced him to step down from power in favor of his younger brother.

The last public word from Fidel Castro was an Oct. 17 column in state media.

Set up to counterbalance Western-based TV networks like CNN and the BBC, Telesur is financed by leftist governments in Latin America, Venezuela in particular.

Writing by Andrew Cawthorne; Editing by Daniel Trotta and Gunna Dickson

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