Cuba’s reclusive former President Fidel Castro has been photographed in public for the first time in almost a year.
The revolutionary leader attended the inauguration of an art gallery in Havana run by Cuban artist Alexis Leyva, aka Kcho, yesterday.
It is the first time Castro has been seen in public since attending a National Assembly meeting in February 2013.
Public appearance: Fidel Castro, Cuba’s former President and revolutionary leader, looks at the camera during a rare public appearance to attend the inauguration of an art gallery in Havana, Cuba
Castro, who ceded power to his brother Raul Castro in 2008 after falling ill in 2006, has kept a low profile in recent years.
But his silence in the wake of Nelson Mandela’s death prompted widespread speculation that his health is ailing.
The former South African president was a close ally, thanks to Cuba’s backing of Angolan fighters who battled forces supported by the previous pro-apartheid South African government of the 1980s.
This prompted the release of pictures in December of Castro meeting with a Spanish reporter about current events for more than two hours earlier that month.
The photo shows Castro, 87, seated and wearing a blue sweatsuit, looking intensely at writer Ignacio Ramonet and gesturing with his left hand.
Mr Ramonet and the website Cubadebate say the photo was taken early December.
The reporter told the AP that he and Castro discussed a wide range of topics including Mandela, Venezuelan politics and climate change.
‘I found him to be in excellent health and in a good mood, physically, mentally and psychologically,’ Mr Ramonet said.
Castro left power after 47 years after suffering serious intestinal bleeding in 2006, handing his duties to his brother Raul.
While Fidel Castro has been out of the spotlight due to his health, his brother Raul has been making enough headlines for them both as he caused a stir after shaking President Obama’s hand during the public memorial ceremony for Mandela in South Africa.
It then emerged that representatives from the two historically antagonistic nations had already been in talks for six months.
During the president’s trip back from South Africa, Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes told reporters on Air Force One that ‘it’s been quite some time since the Presidents of the United States and Cuba were even in the same place.’
But he acknowledged that ‘we’re in talks on issues associated with migration that, again, I think allow for there to be greater connectivity particularly among Cuban Americans and Cuba.’