Fidel Castro makes first appearance in four years

Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro made his first known public appearance since falling ill four years ago in a visit this week to a Havana scientific facility, a blog and a Cuban government website reported on Saturday.

Photographs posted on state-run www.cubadebate.cu taken by his son Alex showed a smiling, healthy-looking Castro (83) talking with directors of the National Centre of Scientific Investigations.

News of the visit first came out on a pro-government blog, where photographs taken with a cellphone were posted of Castro greeting admirers as he left the centre.

The blogger, Rosa C Baez, wrote that Castro was spotted making a “surprise visit” to the centre on Wednesday and stopped to greet and “throw kisses” to the group that waited for a chance to see him.

“He is thin, but looked good and, according to our director, is very good mentally,” said Baez, whose blog appears on a website entitled Bloggers and Correspondents of the Revolution.


In the photos, the white-bearded Castro wore an athletic jacket, as he has in virtually all photographs published since he went into seclusion.

Four yeas of seclusion
Castro has been seen only in occasional photographs and videos since he underwent emergency intestinal surgery in July 2006 and ceded power provisionally to his younger brother, Raul Castro.

His first public appearance in years comes as Cuba is preparing to release 52 political prisoners, all jailed in a crackdown on the opposition in 2003 while Castro was still in power.

The visit to the scientific centre celebrated the 45th anniversary of the centre’s creation in July 1965.

Last year, Venezuelan President and close ally Hugo Chávez said Castro had been going for walks near his Havana residence, but they were never confirmed by the government and there were no known photos of him out and about.

Castro, after leading the 1959 revolution that toppled a US-backed dictator, ruled Cuba for 49 years and, with his many long, televised speeches and numerous public appearances, dominated Cuban life.

He resigned the presidency in February 2008 and Raul Castro (79) officially took over as president in a vote by the National Assembly.

Even though he has stayed out of sight, he has maintained a public presence through opinion columns written for Cuba’s state-run media, and still plays a role behind the scenes.

For more than a year, his columns have dwelt almost exclusively with international topics. He has said he was told his columns on domestic issues were interfering with the government’s work.

In the past few weeks, Castro has predicted in his columns that the world is on the verge of nuclear war, to be sparked by conflict between the United States and Iran over international sanctions against Iran’s nuclear activities. – Reuters

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Related stories

200 Cuban medics to help SA fight Covid-19

200 Cubans are flying to South Africa to help the defence force and health department respond to the pandemic

Chris Hani’s political legacy

Chris Hani should not be made into an ideal type or used to settle political scores in the present

Spain did it, so why can’t South Africa nationalise healthcare to save lives?

South Africa is working towards establishing a publicly-funded universal health service and now, amid the coronavirus pandemic, is the time to implement it

Zuma-ists hope to ace provinces

Acolytes of the ex-president gear up take-back regions in Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal and North West before the ANC mid-term meeting

Riddle of Zuma’s sick note

SANDF officials considered launching a probe into the ‘doctored’ certificate

Thomas Cook folds, sparking worldwide repatriation of tourists

As well as grounding its planes, Thomas Cook has been forced to shut travel agencies, leaving the group's 22,000 global employees out of a job
Advertising

Vaccine trial results due in December

If successful, it will then have to be manufactured and distributed

White men still rule and earn more

Women and black people occupy only a few seats at the JSE table, the latest PwC report has found

ANC still at odds over how to tackle leaders facing...

The ANC’s top six has been mandated to work closely with its integrity committee to tackle claims of corruption against senior party members

The PPE scandal that the Treasury hasn’t touched

Many government officials have been talking tough about dealing with rampant corruption in PPE procurement but the majority won't even release names of who has benefited from the R10-billion spend
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday