Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa says Cuba's Fidel Castro told him in December 2012 that then-Venezuelan head of state Hugo Chavez would be dead within months.
Chavez, 58, died March 5 after battling cancer for nearly two years.
Castro "told us that the matter was very serious and that President Chavez's life had only a few months left, so we had to prepare ourselves for such a heavy blow," Correa said in an interview aired Monday on Caracas-based cable news network Telesur.
The Ecuadorian leader traveled to Havana in mid-December to meet with Chavez before the Venezuelan underwent his fourth cancer surgery.
He found Chavez looking well and in "very good spirits," only to learn hours later from Castro that the Venezuelan president was terminal, Correa told Telesur.
Acknowledging the impact of Chavez's death, Correa said: "No one should be indispensable, but we are all necessary and Hugo was very necessary."
First elected in 1998, Hugo Chavez won another six-year term in last October's Venezuelan presidential contest.
He took to the airwaves two months later to tell Venezuelans he was traveling to Cuba for another cancer operation and to designate then-Vice President Nicolas Maduro as his choice to succeed him as head of the governing leftist PSUV party, should the need arise.
Maduro became acting head of state after Chavez's death and narrowly won the April 14 special presidential election. EFE