HAVANA - 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, Communist Party newspaper Granma reported on Monday.

Castro, 86, spoke to reporters as he voted on Sunday in Cuba's parliamentary elections in one of his increasingly rare public appearances.

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

"He is much better, recovering. It has been a tough fight but he is improving," the frail, white-bearded Castro was quoted as saying.



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