Venezuela’s Chavez Improving After Tough Cancer Fight, Castro Says

HAVANA (Reuters) -

Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro said Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is getting “much better” as he recovers from cancer surgery almost two months ago in Havana, the newspaper Granma reported on Monday.

Castro, 86, spoke to reporters on Sunday in one of his increasingly rare public appearances.

He said he gets daily reports on the condition of Chavez, Cuba’s top socialist ally and benefactor.

“He is much better … It has been a tough fight but he is improving,” Castro was quoted as saying. “We have to cure him. Chavez is very important for his country and for Latin America,” he said.

Chavez, 58, is battling cancer in the pelvic region discovered in June 2011 by Cuban doctors.

He has undergone four cancer-related surgeries in Cuba, the last on Dec. 11 in Havana.

Castro’s description of Chavez’s condition matches increasingly-positive public statements from Venezuelan officials, but he has not been heard from publicly since the surgery.