The 83-year-old Fidel Castro is doing "very well for his age," despite a health crisis that forced him to step down as Cuba's president and has kept him out of public for almost four years, his brother Raul says.
Raul Castro said that his bearded and iconic brother is "reading and writing a lot and you could say that he is very well for his age."
The former leader is exercising daily and is "more disciplined than ever because now he has lunch and dinner at the right times, goes to bed earlier and doesn't work until 7 or 8 in the morning like he used to," his brother said.
Brazilian leader Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said essentially the same thing after meeting with the elder Castro last month.
Raul Castro's comments, aired Monday night on state television, came as he toured eastern Cuba following a magnitude-5.6 weekend earthquake there that jangled nerves but did not cause major damage or injuries.
A girl in the crowd asked how Fidel Castro was doing, leading Raul to discuss his brother's current health, as well as a 2004 fall that broke Fidel's shoulder and knee. Raul Castro said Fidel couldn't lift his arms fully after that fall, but now was well enough to write fine.
Fidel Castro underwent emergency intestinal surgery in July 2006 and has not appeared in public since, though he has looked strong and reasonably healthy in photos released periodically by Cuba's government.
His exact illness and condition remain state secrets, however, as is the location where the older Castro is living while recuperating. He turns 84 on Aug. 12.