Cuba’s former revolutionary leader Fidel Castro has appeared in public for the first time in months, challenging the rumor mill that he is on death’s door.
Commercial director at the Hotel Nacional, Yamila Fuster, told The Associated Press on Sunday that the 86-year-old politician dropped off a Venezuelan guest on Saturday afternoon, and then stayed for about half an hour to chat with hotel staff.
“Fidel Castro was here yesterday, he brought a guest and spoke to workers and hotel leaders for 30 minutes,” Fuster said. She noted that she was not present at the time.
“They told me he looked very good. He was wearing a checked shirt and a hat,” Fuster said.
She did not release the name of the Venezuelan guest, but witnesses at the hotel say former Venezuelan Vice President Elias Jaua is staying there.
Castro had not been seen in public since March, when he received visiting Pope Benedict XVI.
The former Cuban leader’s health has been the subject of intense speculation in recent days, as it is considered a matter of national security in his country and few details are released.
Social media sites and some news organizations recently reported allegations by Venezuelan doctor Jose Rafael Marquina that Castro suffered a massive stroke, was in a vegetative state and had only weeks to live.
In an article published in the state-run Cubadebate website on Monday, Castro himself condemned international media rumors that his health was deteriorating.
The 86-year-old revolutionary figure also released some photos of himself to show he was in good health and reveal “how dishonest” the international media have been.
“I don’t even remember what a headache is. To show what liars they are, I’m offering these photos to accompany this article,” Castro wrote in the article.
Two close family members of Castro had also denied he was in grave condition.
Juanita Castro, his sister, said that reports of her brother’s condition were “pure rumors” and “absurd.”
Alex Castro, the former leader’s son, also told a reporter for a weekly Cuban newspaper that his father was “well, going about his daily life.”
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