A top Cuban official has moved to quash speculation that convalescing Cuban leader Fidel Castro might appear at a May Day parade, though he said Castro was “very well.”
A fitter, less gaunt Castro, 80, was seen in official photos earlier this week 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 fueled speculation among many Cubans that Castro, who underwent major intestinal surgery in July, might be on hand at the May day parade in Havana’s Revolution Square.
National Assembly speaker Ricardo Alarcon, one of the communist regime’s top figures, said he thought Fidel Castro should take a pass and opt for a television appearance instead. Fidel Castro has not appeared in public since his operation nine months ago.
“It’s one thing to be well, but to be there for two hours watching a parade ...I would prefer to see him on TV. He looks better on television,” Alarcon said when asked late Tuesday if Fidel Castro might show for May Day events May 1.
Alarcon said Fidel Castro is “very well” and speaks by phone with colleagues several times a day.
“He is informed about the main issues, following them very closely, and carefully ... This is not a man whose life is over,” Alarcon stressed.
Saturday, the Cuban Communist Party newspaper Granma ran two still photos of a fitter-looking Castro—his first official media picture since January 30. A third photo of Fidel Castro with his guest was run in the Juventude Rebelde newspaper.
In the new images, Castro appears in a brown and red track suit, both sitting and standing, and appeared to have gained back some of the weight he lost during his illness.
The official who met Castro, Wu Guanzheng, is a member of the Politburo Standing Committee of the Communist Party of China. He reportedly brought a card for the Cuban leader from President Hu Jintao.
After almost five decades at the helm of the only communist country in the Americas, Fidel Castro underwent intestinal surgery last July and temporarily handed power to Raul Castro, the defense chief, July 31.
Cuban officials and ally Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez have given updates on 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.