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Cuban Official Says Fidel Castro Recovering From Surgery

Cuba's health minister says Cuban leader Fidel Castro is 'recovering satisfactorily' from his recent surgery.

Jose Ramon Balguer gave the update on Mr. Castro's health Friday during a visit to Guatemala.

Earlier in the day, the ruling Communist Party newspaper said temporary President Raul Castro is "firmly at the head of the nation." The daily Granma also dismissed a call from President Bush that Cubans work for democratic change.

The editor of Cuba's Communist Youth newspaper, Rogelio Polanco, told state television Thursday that Cuba is prepared to defend itself against any U.S. attempt to force change. White House spokesman Tony Snow later dismissed such concerns as "absurd."

Fidel Castro temporarily relinquished power Monday to his brother, Defense Minister Raul Castro, because of abdominal surgery. Neither Castro has been seen in public since the handover was announced.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice recorded a message Friday for the Cuban people. The message, to be broadcast on U.S. government-funded Radio and TV Marti, is expected to repeat Mr. Bush's call for democracy.

Cuban exiles in the United States have been pushing for political change on the island, and some celebrated news of Fidel Castro's ill health. Mr. Castro's sister, Juanita Castro Ruz, long politically estranged from her brother, called such celebrations unseemly.