HAVANA (AP) -- Fidel Castro says he never imagined when grave illness forced him from office in 2006 that he would still be alive seven years later.
The retired Cuban leader's comment comes in a long essay published in official media on Wednesday, a day after his 87th birthday.
It is his first published essay since March. Castro ceased his semi-regular columns called "Reflections" last year.
In the wide-ranging piece Castro also reflects on the death of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez this spring and key moments from the Cold War.