Long-time Cuban leader Fidel Castro says he thought he was dying when he became very ill in July, 2006.

Mr. Castro's comment was in an essay he wrote, which was published Thursday in the state-owned Cuban newspaper Granma.

In the essay, the Cuban leader discussed his recent meeting with Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. Mr. Castro wrote that he told Mr. da Silva he has dedicated himself to thinking and writing, after Mr. da Silva commented on how well he looked.

Mr. Castro, 81, has not been seen in public since undergoing emergency intestinal surgery and transferring power to his younger brother, Raul, in 2006.

He said that while doctors fought for his life, he dictated the necessary arrangements to the head aide of the Council of State, who read his message on government television.

Cubans voted Sunday in parliamentary elections. The National Assembly has 45 days to decide which of its members will form a new Council of State, Cuba's supreme governing body.

In December, Mr. Castro said he does not seek to remain in power indefinitely and would not block the rise of a new generation of leaders.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.