By ANITA SNOW | Associated Press
Cuba’s Communist daily published new photographs of ailing leader Fidel Castro on Monday, showing him in bed on his 80th birthday during a visit with his brother Raul and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
The official Granma newspaper posted the six photographs on its online edition, one day after the Communist Youth newspaper Juventud Rebelde published the first images of Castro since the Cuban leader announced two weeks ago he had undergone intestinal surgery and was temporarily ceding power to Raul, the defense minister and No. 2 in the government.
Chavez’s visit came the same day Castro sent a message to the Cuban people, warning them that he faces a long and difficult recovery after his surgery.
In all of the most recent pictures, Castro is in bed, wearing what looks like a red sweatshirt. In a seventh photograph, Raul Castro is shown embracing Chavez when he arrived in Havana on Sunday. It was the younger Castro’s debut appearance as acting Cuban president.
“An Unforgettable Afternoon Among Brothers,” Granma said of the afternoon visit by Chavez, who is Castro’s closest friend and political ally in Latin America.
The lead photo shows Chavez and Raul Castro standing at Fidel’s bedside — all three smiling — next to a large portrait of the Cuban leader on an easel. The newspaper said Raul Castro gave Chavez the portrait, which formerly hung in his office and was painted in 1959 by famed Mexican artist David Alfaro Siqueiros.
Castro and Chavez shared “more than three hours of emotional exchange, anecdotes, laughs, photos, gifts, a frugal snack and the happiness of close friendship,” Granma said.
The newspaper quoting Chavez as saying, “This is the best visit I’ve ever had in my life.” Expressing surprise at his recovery, Chavez reportedly commented: “What kind of human being is this? What material is it made of?
“It is, as you people say, made of caguairin,” Chavez reportedly said, using the name of the tropical hardwood tree that Granma has used to describe Castro in recent days.
The images indicate real affection between the men, with them smiling at each other, clasping hands and in one, drinking what looks like a milkshake. Cuban officials have not disclosed where Castro is being treated.
It was the first report in Cuban media about the visit. Venezuela’s state news service ABN reported Sunday that Chavez gave Castro a dagger and a coffee cup that had belonged to South American independence fighter Simon Bolivar.
All Estudios Revolucion/AP photos
Raul’s first appearance as the President of Cuba
Raul, Fidel and Hugo Chavez stand near David Alfaro Siqueiros painting
Very candid shot of two leaders
Chavez giving Castro the dagger… as a present. I think this photo is pretty symbolic. When would Castro let anyone, especially a foreign leader let them look more powerful then he. If Castro can’t stand for this photo AND let’s these frail pictures of him to be officially released by Granma, I would have to say that he won’t be back to work for a long time. And, the longer he is away, the more the new leaders will change the country.
Okay conspiracy theorists, were these photos only for the private use of Hugo Chavez and Raul leaked them to the press to show just how frail Castro really is thus giving Raul more power?
Castro doing some light work as Alarcon said
I would have to say that this is the most candid shot of Fidel that I have ever seen.