HAVANA TIMES — Former Cuban President Fidel Castro appeared in public for the first time in more than eight months. Castro, 89, took part in a tribute to Vilma Espin, the late wife of his brother Raul, according to images broadcast on state television on Thursday night, reported dpa news.
The former president is seen talking to an audience largely made up by grade school students and teachers in Miramar on the west side of Havana.
“I am sure that on a day like today Vilma would be very happy because she would be seeing (why) she sacrificed her life. Anyone who dies fighting for the revolution leaves energy,” Castro said of his sister-in-law, who died in 2007.
Fidel Castro turns 90 in August. While retired from public spotlight since illness forced him to delegate power to his brother Raul in 2006, he is rarely seen outside his Havana home.
The last time Cuban television showed him on the streets of Havana was in August 2015, when he took a walk along with the presidents of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, and of Bolivia, Evo Morales, who visited him on his birthday.
In recent years, the prolonged public absence of Fidel Castro has repeatedly led to rumors about his health.
He had returned to the public arena ten days ago with a “reflection” spread by the Cuban press in which he sharply criticizes the recent visit to the island of US President Barack Obama.
Castro, an eternal antagonist of Washington, claimed in the text that his country does not need “the empire” to give Cuba “anything,” referring to the historical rapprochement initiated by Cuba and the United States 15 months ago.
Although not opposed to the thaw with Washington initiated by his brother Raul, Fidel had already shown skepticism over the new policy of dialogue between the two countries. No one in the governing party has contradicted his statements.
The current public appearance of Fidel Castro also comes days before the start of the seventh Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC), the main conclave of the only political party permitted on the island.
The PCC is expected to discuss the current process of economic reforms on the island, among other topics, at the three-day conference, which begins on April 16.