- Cuba - Fidel Castro - Hugo Chavez - Raul Castro
Cuban TV broadcast images of Fidel Castro late Tuesday night, next to his brother, Raul and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. The images of the Cuban strongman, the first since January, aimed at scuppering rumors about his health and his relations with Venezuela.
“He wants to show that he is always present,” explained Alain Ammar, a journalist specializing in Cuba, told FRANCE 24. “There was a rumor circulating over the past three days that he had not recovered from the operation. The ‘leader maximo’, 81 years, underwent a new operation in the past few days,” he added.
Castro relinquished power in February due to health reasons. Following intestinal surgery in July 2006, he handed over the reigns to Raul, who officially succeeded him Feb. 24.
The former Cuban leader has not made a television appearance since Jan. 16, when he met with Brazilian leader Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. Significantly, Castro did not make any public appearance during the last visit of his friend, Chavez, in March, as well as during the May visit by Bolivian President Evo Morales.
The images broadcast Tuesday showed Castro looking frail but animated in a tracksuit – his seemingly regulation garb since he took ill – in an animated discussion with Raul and Chavez.
“We spoke for nearly three hours with Fidel yesterday and two more today, while taking a walk in the park,” Chavez told Venezuelan TV.
‘The revolution marches on’
"We reviewed all the energy exchange plans and discussed the reinforcement of refining capacities and oil production,” said Chavez. They also spoke about the need to produce their own food, using natural methods. Cuban media spoke about a one-hour meeting, "animated and warm" between the three men.
“Fidel Castro also wants to show that he is close to his brother, Raul and Hugo Chavez,” said Ammar. Relations between Raul and Chavez have not been as warm as with Fidel.
Cuba received 100,000 barrels of Venezuelan oil per day at subsidized prices, a vital economic boost for the ailing Cuban economy that would not be possible without Chavez. “Fidel also wants to show that the revolution is not over,” said Ammar.
The two countries have maintained close links since Chavez came to power. The leftist Venezuelan leader has paid Castro several bedside visits during his convalescence.