The prolonged silence of Cuba Fidel Castro has fueled speculations about his health since he stepped down and handed over powers to Raul Castro, his cousin, in 2006; but the country’s mainstream media outlets published a series of recent photos of the 88-year-old former president as he engages a university student leader in a debate about everything under the sun, while his aging wife, Dalia Soto del Valle, looks on.
About 21 photos were published by Cuban’s state-run newspaper’s website on Monday – the first since several months; in fact, the last time the old leader had his photo taken was when he talked with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in August 2014.
In the latest photos, Castro is seated holding the day’s newspaper, while engaging in a lively discussion with Randy Perdomo Garcia, the student leader at the University of Havana where Castro started his higher education some 70 years ago.
According to Perdomo, the meeting with Castro took place on January 23 in Castro’s house, and they spoke for over 3 hours in an event celebrating the 70th anniversary of Castro starting his studies at the University of Havana. According to the student leader, Castro informed him he is abreast of news around the world and performing his daily exercises; they also engaged in various conversations that ranged from international politics, agriculture, astronomy, and even Namibia’s donation of animals to Cuba’s National Zoo.
“I’m about to go but he continues a conversation about new ways of fighting some diseases, including diabetes, with the production of natural foods; about Cuba’s relations with Africa, from its contribution to those countries’ independence to the end of apartheid and the current contribution of Cuban doctors to the fight against Ebola,” Perdomo wrote.
The old and the young also closed the generational gap as they discussed the release of three Cuban intelligence agents as part of the Dec. 17 declaration by Cuba, and the United State’s strategic move to restore diplomatic relations with the communist state.
“I don’t trust the policy of the United States, nor have I exchanged a word with them, but this does not mean I reject a peaceful solution to our conflicts,” the revolutionary leader wrote in a letter written last month to a student group at the University of Havana.
Since the US moved to restore relations which had been broken with Cuba since 1961, Castro had not made any remarks or appeared to show any public knowledge of what was going on.