Fidel Castro appears healthy on Cuban TV after one year

Fit-looking former leader Fidel Castro appeared on Cuban television for the first time since June 2008.

Fidel Castro appears healthy on Cuban TV after one year

Fit-looking former leader Fidel Castro appeared on Cuban television for the first time since June 2008 and his photograph was published in an official newspaper on Sunday in a signal that his health has improved.

Castro, 83, looked aged but in good condition as he spoke with a group of Venezuelan students in a three-hour meeting that took place on Saturday.

He told them he was worried about the future of the planet, under threat from global warming.

"Even the Pentagon has gotten involved," Castro said. "It has included the climate among things that threaten the security of the United States."

"We are facing events that are very, very, very grave," said Castro, who took power in a 1959 revolution and held on to it for 49 years.

He resigned the presidency last year and was replaced by his brother Raul Castro, 78.

Castro has not been seen in public since July 2006, when he underwent intestinal surgery for a still-undisclosed ailment. His health is considered a state secret.

He has appeared in occasional photos and videos since then, but the latest video was the first in some time in which his voice could be heard.

The video followed a front-page photograph of Castro meeting with Ecuadorean president Rafael Correa, published on Sunday in the newspaper Juventud Rebelde.

The photograph of Castro showed him standing and wearing a white, short-sleeved shirt in his meeting with Correa, who began a private visit to Cuba a few days ago.

A brief official note said Castro and Correa spoke for a number of hours on Friday about recent developments in their respective countries, Latin America and the world.

It was the first photo of Fidel Castro published inside the country by state media since Feb. 17, when he met Chilean President Michelle Bachelet.

The last video of him came out on June 17, 2008, following a meeting with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

While Castro leaves day-to-day running of the government largely to his brother Raul, he remains influential behind the scenes and writes regular commentaries for state-run media.

Castro's health has visibly improved in recent months. The brothers say they consult on all important matters of state.

According to accounts given by people who have visited Fidel Castro, he is living at home on the outskirts of Havana with his wife in a retirement villa that has a small gymnasium and pool.

As Cubans gathered at kiosks on Sunday morning to pick up the paper, word spread that Fidel's photo had appeared.

"I'm waiting for the paper to see him because it's been a long time since a photo was published and I want to see how he is," Arturo Martinez said, waiting for the paper to arrive a few blocks from Communist Party and government headquarters.

Castro has said Cuba will not surrender, playing down comments this year by U.S. President Barack Obama to improve ties with Havana. Obama has said he will keep the 47-year-old U.S. trade embargo on the island to press the Cuban leadership to improve human rights and grant political freedoms.

"He who doesn't believe in man, will never be a revolutionary," he told the students.

Reuters
Last Mod: 24 Ağustos 2009, 12:35
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