Fidel Castro was hit hard by last week’s death of longtime friend and Nobel Prize-winning Colombian novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Cuba’s second in command said Friday.
Speaking in Havana as he signed a book of condolences at the Colombian Embassy, Cuban First Vice President Miguel Diaz-Canel said Castro was in “very good” health, but was left “dismayed” at Garcia Marquez’ death.
“Fidel is a man of great human sensibility, so he feels the loss of his friends.” Diaz-Canel told reporters.
Castro has not commented publicly on Garcia Marquez’s passing. The two were close for years after Garcia Marquez came to Cuba to work for Prensa Latina, the state news agency founded by guerrilla leader Ernesto “Che” Guevara.
Castro’s silence fuelled yet another round of rumours on social media about the health of the 87-year-old former leader, who was forced from office in 2006 by a near-fatal intestinal illness.
Castro, 87, retired from the Cuban presidency for good in 2008 and rarely appears in public now.
Diaz-Canel is the first high-level Cuban official to speak publicly about Garcia Marquez since the author of “One Hundred Years of Solitude” and other renowned novels died April 17 in Mexico City at age 87.

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