Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has reinvigorated speculation over Fidel Castro’s health after announcing that the Cuban leader is “locked in a battle for his life.” The two leaders are known to be close, and Castro has yet to make a public appearance since undergoing surgery in July.


Mr Chavez, a close friend of Cuba’s left-wing leader, said he hoped Mr Castro would recover but admitted he faced a hard struggle.

Mr Castro, 80, has not been seen in public since undergoing surgery in July and handing over political power.

Mr Chavez spoke at the Latin American summit in Brazil in a rare admission of the state of Mr Castro’s health.

Venezuela’s president said he spoke to the Cuban leader by telephone for half an hour several days ago.

“He is going through a difficult situation but just like he says, the machine that they have to fix is 80 years old,” Mr Chavez told the Mercosaur trade summit.

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