Monday 23 October 2017

Fidel Castro is 'full of vitality' after making first public appearance in more than a year

Cuban former president Fidel Castro talks to a delegation of Venezuelans in Havana March 30, 2015. Former Cuban President Fidel Castro, 88, appeared in public for the first time in more than a year on Monday, greeting a visiting delegation of Venezuelans to show he is alive and well, official media reported on Saturday.
Picture taken March 30, 2015.
REUTERS/Estudios Revolucion/Cubadebate Handout via Reuters.
Cuban former president Fidel Castro talks to a delegation of Venezuelans in Havana March 30, 2015. Former Cuban President Fidel Castro, 88, appeared in public for the first time in more than a year on Monday, greeting a visiting delegation of Venezuelans to show he is alive and well, official media reported on Saturday. Picture taken March 30, 2015. REUTERS/Estudios Revolucion/Cubadebate Handout via Reuters.
Cuban former president Fidel Castro talks to a delegation of Venezuelans in Havana March 30, 2015. Former Cuban President Fidel Castro, 88, appeared in public for the first time in more than a year on Monday, greeting a visiting delegation of Venezuelans to show he is alive and well, official media reported on Saturday. Picture taken March 30, 2015. REUTERS/Estudios Revolucion/Cubadebate Handout via Reuters.

Daniel Trotta

Former Cuban President Fidel Castro, 88, appeared in public "full of vitality" for the first time in more than a year on Monday, greeting a delegation of Venezuelans, official media reported on Saturday.

It was his first known appearance outside his home since Cuba in December agreed to normalize relations with the United States, Castro's longtime adversary.

Cuban former president Fidel Castro talks to a delegation of Venezuelans in Havana March 30, 2015. Former Cuban President Fidel Castro, 88, appeared in public for the first time in more than a year on Monday, greeting a visiting delegation of Venezuelans to show he is alive and well, official media reported on Saturday.
Picture taken March 30, 2015.
REUTERS/Estudios Revolucion/Cubadebate Handout via Reuters.
Cuban former president Fidel Castro talks to a delegation of Venezuelans in Havana March 30, 2015. Former Cuban President Fidel Castro, 88, appeared in public for the first time in more than a year on Monday, greeting a visiting delegation of Venezuelans to show he is alive and well, official media reported on Saturday. Picture taken March 30, 2015. REUTERS/Estudios Revolucion/Cubadebate Handout via Reuters.

Official media showed images of a seated Castro shaking hands with the visiting Venezuelans through the window of his vehicle, wearing a baseball cap and a windbreaker.

Read more here: EU-Cuba thaw could happen in months 

There was no explanation why five days passed before the encounter was reported in Cuba.

He met at a school with 33 Venezuelans, who were on a solidarity mission to Cuba, for about 90 minutes. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, oil-rich Venezuela has become Communist Cuba's closest ally and chief benefactor.

Cuban former president Fidel Castro talks to a delegation of Venezuelans in Havana March 30, 2015. Former Cuban President Fidel Castro, 88, appeared in public for the first time in more than a year on Monday, greeting a visiting delegation of Venezuelans to show he is alive and well, official media reported on Saturday.
Picture taken March 30, 2015.
REUTERS/Estudios Revolucion/Cubadebate Handout via Reuters.
Cuban former president Fidel Castro talks to a delegation of Venezuelans in Havana March 30, 2015. Former Cuban President Fidel Castro, 88, appeared in public for the first time in more than a year on Monday, greeting a visiting delegation of Venezuelans to show he is alive and well, official media reported on Saturday. Picture taken March 30, 2015. REUTERS/Estudios Revolucion/Cubadebate Handout via Reuters.

Castro impressed the Venezuelans with a firm, long handshake and a lucid mind, the newspaper Juventud Rebelde reported in a writer's first-person account.

See more here:

 

Castro relayed "multiple details about life in Venezuela, especially now that this great nation has become the bull's eye for imperial greed," the report said, in apparent reference to U.S. sanctions on Venezuela that declared the South American nation a national security threat.

"Fidel is full of vitality," the report said.

Former president Fidel Castro has spoken of the diplomatic thaw between the US and Cuba (AP)
Former president Fidel Castro has spoken of the diplomatic thaw between the US and Cuba (AP)

Castro's last previous public sighting came on Jan. 8, 2014, at the opening of a Havana cultural center sponsored by one of his favorite Cuban artists, Alexis Leyva, alias Kcho.

In December 2014, U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro, Fidel's younger brother, announced they would re-establish diplomatic ties, opening a new era in the previously turbulent relations that arose after the Castros came to power in 1959.

Fidel Castro stepped down due to illness provisionally in 2006 and definitively in 2008, handing off to his younger brother Raul, 83. Fidel writes an occasional newspaper column, receives dignitaries at home, and rarely appears in public.

Diego Maradona and ex-Cuban President Fidel Castro in 2005.
Diego Maradona and ex-Cuban President Fidel Castro in 2005.
Fidel Castro

His current role in policy-making is unknown. Many Cubans presume Raul Castro consults with his brother on major decisions, and Fidel Castro's long silence after the December announcement raised questions about his health and whether he agreed with the rapprochement with the Americans.

Read more here: Cuba: Captivated by an island on the cusp of change 

Reuters

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