By ANITA SNOW | Associated Press Writer
Raul Castro made a surprise appearance Thursday evening at the annual book fair u2;014 an event his 80-year-old brother often attended in past years.
“He’s consulted on the most important questions,” Raul Castro said of Fidel. “He doesn’t interfere, but he knows about everything.
“Luckily, he doesn’t call me much,” Raul joked, saying his older brother usually called on Vice President Carlos Lage and Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque.
Raul Castro (L), Chief of Cuba’s armed forces and brother of Cuba’s President Fidel Castro, smiles with Cuba’s Culture Minister Abel Prieto during the inauguration of the International Book Fair in Havana February 8, 2007.
The 75-year-old Raul traded in his typical olive green uniform for a gray jacket over a pair of blue pants for the event at a Spanish fortress across the bay from Havana.
Arriving at the opening in a small bus, the younger Castro was accompanied by Culture Minister Abel Prieto.
Raul Castro’s appearance at a purely cultural event was seen as highly unusual, and it was not immediately clear if it would mark the emergence of a new, more public persona. His informal comments to the press were the first since he assumed provisional power.
Since Fidel stepped down, Raul Castro has appeared in public and given speeches only when he has deemed it necessary.
In past years, the older brother had often enjoyed attending the opening of the book fair, arriving last year with his good friend and ally, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.