challenges Castro to have dialogue with
WASHINGTON, Oct 15 (AFP) - The United States
on Monday challenged ailing Cuban President
Fidel Castro to hold dialogue with his people,
following his much publicized live media
appearance with his Venezuelan ally Hugo
Cubans heard Fidel Castro on Sunday joking
and chattering on a television show hosted
by Chavez, his first live broadcast in Cuba
since he was sidelined after major intestinal
surgery 15 months ago.
But the United States, communist Cuba's
arch rival, said Castro should have the
same dialogue with his people.
"I am delighted that Fidel Castro
has an opportunity to have a chance to discuss
things with his good friend President Chavez,"
said Tom Casey, a State Department spokesman.
"It is too bad that in almost half
a century of misrule in Cuba, he's never
had the same kind of conversation with his
own people," Casey told reporters.
Castro spoke by telephone with Chavez for
an hour and 22 minutes on a variety of topics,
including the state of his health and the
challenges of life in the shadow of the
"Everyone is electrified to hear you,"
Chavez told the convalescing Cuban leader
on his program "Hello Mr. President,"
broadcast for five hours Sunday in both
Cuba and Venezuela.
Castro has not appeared in public since
undergoing intestinal surgery and ceding
power to his brother Raul in July 2006,
communicating through regular articles in
the communist regime's official newspapers.
Castro and Chavez also joked about their
joint foe, US President George W. Bush,
in their conversation.
Switching to a more serious tone, Castro
said "the tyrannical power" --
a term he usually reserves for the United
States -- "is now facing new multiple