Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega was in Havana on Saturday to meet with Cuban officials, the third leftist head of state and friend of Fidel Castro to visit the island in a bit more than a week.
State media said Ortega arrived Friday night, part of a tour that has taken him to Venezuela, Algeria, Libya and Iran. He was met at the airport by Cabinet Secretary Carlos Lage and planned to meet officials to discuss the strong ties between Cuba and Nicaragua and issues affecting the region, according to official reports.
There was no word on whether Ortega would meet with the 80-year-old Castro, but a private chat between the two seemed likely.
Castro has not been seen in public since July 31, when he stunned Cubans by announcing he had undergone emergency intestinal surgery and was stepping down in favor of a provisional government headed by his brother Raul, the defense minister.
Life on the island has changed little under the 75-year-old Raul. Meanwhile, Fidel’s condition and exact illness are state secrets, though in recent weeks he has penned a series of international essays and has looked stronger and more lively in official photos and video clips meant to illustrate his recovery.
Castro appeared for nearly an hour in a previously recorded interview with state television which aired June 5, speaking slowly but clearly and apparently looking well enough for his friends in the region to begin dropping by.
Two days after the interview aired, Bolivian President Evo Morales made an unannounced visit to Havana, meeting with Castro for three hours and saying the convalescing leader looked well. On June 12, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez arrived in Cuba for a surprise visit and talked for six hours behind closed doors with Castro.
Chavez later referred to Castro as his “father” and said his friend and ally had “recovered his fastball of 90 miles an hour” but was still “warming up his arm” and was “not yet ready to take the diamond.”