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Castro’s still calling shots, U.S. says

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Health problems or not, President Fidel Castro is still the man in charge in Cuba, says the State Department.

Chief spokesman James P. Rubin declined to comment Monday on a report by El Nuevo Herald that Castro spent about a week at a hospital in October after an extreme rise in blood pressure and that he had been hospitalized twice previously in the past year for other ailments."I can't say that I wish him (Castro) well, but I can't tell you that I have any information to impart on what's going on there," said Rubin. "Clearly, he is in charge there, and that has caused ill health to the people of Cuba and their system."

El Nuevo Herald quoted a defector, Dr. Elizabeth Trujillo Izquierdo, who had worked at Havana's exclusive Center for Medical and Surgical Research.

The Spanish-language newspaper is owned by The Miami Herald, which published the story Sunday.

"This story did not try to say this woman's account was correct or incorrect," said Larry Olmstead, The Miami Herald managing editor. "She did at least have access to the situation, and we let her tell it."