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Castro: Cuba could train 75,000 doctors for cost of British subs

Convalescing leader Fidel Castro criticized the British Royal Navy's new attack submarine on Monday, saying Cuba could train 75,000 doctors for the US$7.2 billion (euro5.3 billion) price of three subs.

"It illustrates for us, among other things, the sophisticated weaponry being used to maintain the unsustainable order developed by the imperial system of the United States," the 80-year-old Castro wrote in his latest essays on international affairs.

"It cannot be forgotten that England was for years, until a short time ago, the Queen of the Seas," Castro wrote. "Of that privileged position, only a fraction remains of the hegemonic power of its ally and leader, the United States."

British military officials say the HMS Astute, scheduled for launch June 8, will be able to circumnavigate the planet without surfacing, and its nuclear reactor should last throughout the vessel's 25-year operational life. It will be followed by two more Astute-class submarines, Ambush and Artful.

The navy estimates they will cost US$7.2 billion (euro5.3 billion), more than US$2 billion (euro.5 billion) over original estimates.

"The most surprising thing is that with that sum 75,000 doctors could be trained to attend to 150 million people," wrote Castro, who has not been seen publicly since undergoing intestinal surgery and stepping aside for his brother Raul, the defense minister, almost 10 months ago. "If they wanted to, they could build 3,000 polyclinics with sophisticated equipment."

Castro has been seen only in official photographs and videotapes since announcing his illness in late July, but senior government officials insist he is recovering.

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