Castro makes TV appearance


Summary

The convalescing leader was shown on state-controlled television late
on Saturday as he met with the visiting head of Vietnam’s Communist Party, Nong Duc Manh.

The footage was broadcast at about midnight Saturday into Sunday, while four still photos of Castro — a sporting red white and blue track suit alongside Nong — appeared in the Juventud Rebelde daily newspaper.

“Vietnam is a brother country, a country that we will never forsake,” said Castro, who appeared to have put on some weight since the last footage was broadcast.

He met with the Vietnamese leader for about two hours, according to an official, who described an “emotional, intense, brotherly meeting … about issues of mutual interest about Latin America and the Caribbean.”

The visiting Vietnamese leader also met Vice President Carlos Lage, who is managing Cuba’s economy, and paid a visit to Melba Hernandez, a heroine of the Cuban Revolution.

Improved health

The footage showed a smiling 80-year-old Castro exchanging amiable words with Manh, who was also to travel to Chile, Brazil and Venezuela.

Castro had not been seen on national television since January 30, when he was shown meeting with his ally and friend, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

The Cuban revolutionary, who turns 81 in August, was widely rumoured to be near death following gastrointestinal surgery last July, when he handed over the reins of state to his younger brother Raul Castro.

He seemed much improved from the footage several months ago, which had shown a gaunt, frail-looking leader.

Although officially Cuba’s head of government, Raul Castro operates largely out of public view, taking part in public events only when his attendance is indispensable.

Last week, Ricardo Alarcon, the third-most powerful man in Cuba, said on television that Castro was almost completely recovered, but did not mention whether Castro was expected to return to power as Cuba’s active leader.

Castro has not been seen in public since his surgery, although in recent weeks he has written a flurry of articles in Cuba’s state-run newspapers.


The convalescing leader was shown on state-controlled television late
on Saturday as he met with the visiting head of Vietnam’s Communist Party, Nong Duc Manh.

The footage was broadcast at about midnight Saturday into Sunday, while four still photos of Castro — a sporting red white and blue track suit alongside Nong — appeared in the Juventud Rebelde daily newspaper.

“Vietnam is a brother country, a country that we will never forsake,” said Castro, who appeared to have put on some weight since the last footage was broadcast.

He met with the Vietnamese leader for about two hours, according to an official, who described an “emotional, intense, brotherly meeting … about issues of mutual interest about Latin America and the Caribbean.”

The visiting Vietnamese leader also met Vice President Carlos Lage, who is managing Cuba’s economy, and paid a visit to Melba Hernandez, a heroine of the Cuban Revolution.

Improved health

The footage showed a smiling 80-year-old Castro exchanging amiable words with Manh, who was also to travel to Chile, Brazil and Venezuela.

Castro had not been seen on national television since January 30, when he was shown meeting with his ally and friend, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

The Cuban revolutionary, who turns 81 in August, was widely rumoured to be near death following gastrointestinal surgery last July, when he handed over the reins of state to his younger brother Raul Castro.

He seemed much improved from the footage several months ago, which had shown a gaunt, frail-looking leader.

Although officially Cuba’s head of government, Raul Castro operates largely out of public view, taking part in public events only when his attendance is indispensable.

Last week, Ricardo Alarcon, the third-most powerful man in Cuba, said on television that Castro was almost completely recovered, but did not mention whether Castro was expected to return to power as Cuba’s active leader.

Castro has not been seen in public since his surgery, although in recent weeks he has written a flurry of articles in Cuba’s state-run newspapers.