London: The rumor mills surrounding the health of former Cuban leader, Fidel Castro, triggered fresh speculation after a Venezuelan doctor alleged that the ageing revolutionist had suffered a massive stroke, was in a vegetative state, and had only weeks to live.
The rumours come despite a letter from Castro, published by the state media, and relatives at home as well as in the United States, in vehement denial that he is on death`s door, the New York Post reports.
According to the paper, the doctor, Jose Rafael Marquina revealed that Castro, 86, had suffered a "massive embolism of the right cerebral artery", and while not on life support or breathing artificially, he was "moribund" at a house in a gated former country club in western Havana.
Marquina also said that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez had traveled suddenly to Havana to be with his friend and ally, an account that is yet to be verified, the paper said.
Rumors that the former Cuban leader has died or is near death have circulated repeatedly in the media for years, but they gained force after he failed to issue a public statement congratulating Chavez on his Oct 7 election victory. He has not been seen in public since March, when he received visiting Pope Benedict XVI, the paper added.
However, two close family members of Castro have recently denied he is in grave condition, while Juanita Castro, the former leader`s sister, told the AP in Miami that reports of her brother``s condition are "pure rumors" and "absurd."