Cuba’s communist authorities are mobilizing at least six million people to mark May Day May 1, but have not confirmed whether President Fidel Castro—who has not appeared in public since he underwent major surgery nine months ago—will take part.
“I have no confirmation or information that Fidel will be in Revolution Square” Tuesday for the International Workers’ Day events, Salvador Valdes, the secretary general of Cuba’s one union group which organizes parades and marches, told a news conference.
In 48 years since rising to power, Fidel Castro, now 80, only has missed May Day events due to travel outside the country in 1959 and 1963.
Valdes also declined to say whether Raul Castro, 75, who took over as interim leader July 31 after his brother underwent intestinal surgery, would be on hand.
Previous May Day rally in Plaza de la Revolucion - José Goitia and Cristóbal Herrera/AP
Marches in the country of more than 11 million people, led in all cases by “the main authorities,” should have a turnout “topping six to seven million Cubans,” Valdes said.
A number of international journalists have been arriving in Havana hoping to cover Fidel Castro’s return to the public eye after the surgery that took him away from Cuba’s helm for the first time in almost five decades. Prior to his illness, most Cubans had never known another leader.
Earlier this week a fitter, less gaunt Castro was seen in official photos after he met with a top Chinese official, in a sign he unofficially is back at work on more of his customary official duties.
That fuelled speculation among many Cubans that Fidel Castro might be on hand at the May Day parade in Havana.
National Assembly speaker Ricardo Alarcon, one of the communist regime’s top figures, however said he thought Fidel Castro should take a pass and opt for a television appearance instead.
Cuban officials and ally Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez have given updates on Fidel Castro’s health in recent months, hinting he is set for a comeback and defying predictions by his arch-nemesis, the United States that his death was near.
This weekend, Fidel Castro will miss a summit in Venezuela of his closest allies and partners in the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA), a socialist effort to rival US-led plans for free trade in the Americas. Cuba will be represented by Vice President Carlos Lage.