Skip to comments.Castro looks frail, alert in new photos
Posted on 01/15/2008 7:18:24 PM PST by NormsRevenge
HAVANA - Fidel Castro looked frail but alert and even playful in a series of official photographs taken during a meeting with Brazil's president on Tuesday, the first images of the ailing Cuban leader released in about three months.
Wearing a tracksuit and tennis shoes that have become his trademark since he fell ill, Castro is seen seated and grinning, his beard well-trimmed and his hair combed as he talks with President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. In some images, Castro is seen pretending to snap pictures with a camera.
The pictures were given to reporters as Brazil's leader left Cuba, concluding a 24-hour visit during which Silva offered the communist government millions of dollars in credit and signed a deal to drill for oil in the Gulf of Mexico.
It was the first time authorities have released photos of Castro since October when he met with his good friend and socialist ally, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
Castro, 81, has not been seen in public since emergency intestinal surgery forced him to cede power to his younger brother Raul in July 2006.
His condition and exact ailment are state secrets, though he has met behind closed doors several times with Chavez and released essays on an array of topics that appear in state-run media. He has also met with Bolivian President Evo Morales, Nicaraguan leader Daniel Ortega and officials from China and Vietnam.
The meeting between the Castro and Silva, who are friends, was private except for the release of the photographs. A spokesman for Silva who declined to be named in line with department policy confirmed the meeting but would not say what the leaders discussed.
Earlier, it had been unclear Silva he would see the Cuban leader during the trip, his second to Cuba since taking office in 2003.
Earlier Tuesday, Silva signed accords extending Cuba credits for food, drugs, roads and hotel repairs and strengthening ties between Latin America's largest economy and the provisional government of Raul Castro, despite Washington's nearly 50-year-old trade embargo against the island.
He also signed a deal for Brazil's state energy company, Petrobras, to drill for oil in the Gulf of Mexico.
The credits will provide favorable Brazilian financing for construction projects and pharmaceutical and agricultural initiatives and show that Silva's visit wasn't simply a chance for him to check on Castro, said Phil Peters, a Cuba analyst with the Lexington Institute, a think tank near Washington D.C.
"Lula decided this is not going to be a farewell visit to Fidel. It's a vote of confidence to Raul," Peters said. "Brazil is going out of its way not just to make a visit that conveys political support, but to put substantial economic resources on the table."
Foreign Ministry officials in Brasilia suggested that food credits alone would total $100 million, although the agreements themselves did not specify how much financing Brazil will provide.
Silva traveled with four Cabinet ministers and Petrobras chief Jose Sergio Gabrielli, who formalized plans for exploratory deep-water drilling for crude oil off Cuba's coast and for a lubricant factory on the island.
Cuban Gulf waters could contain large quantities of crude, and Spanish, Canadian, Indian and Malaysian companies have already signed contracts to explore the area. The U.S. trade embargo prohibits U.S. companies from investing in the area.
Tuesday's accords were another blow to U.S. efforts to isolate Cuba with trade sanctions, Peters said.
"It's the latest sign that the rest of the world completely disagrees with the U.S approach to Cuba," he said.
Cuba's president Fidel Castro, left, takes a picture of Brazil's President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva, right, during a meeting in Havana, Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2008. Fidel Castro met with Brazil's president on Tuesday and the ailing Cuban leader looked frail but alert in a series of official photographs from the meeting, the first images released of him in months. At center is a translator. (AP Photo/STR)
Cuba's president Fidel Castro, right, speaks to Brazil's President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva, during a meeting in Havana, Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2008. Fidel Castro met with Brazil's president on Tuesday and the ailing Cuban leader looked frail but alert in a series of official photographs from the meeting, the first images released of him in months. (AP Photo/STR)
I don’t think he’s going to be smilin’ when he meets the Big Guy!
Looks like Castro’s body double talking to Saddam’s body double.
Your gonna need a wooden stake and a large hammer to finish this ol’ commie!
Frail but alert. And in the process of falling off his perch.
He’s snow white all over, like something out of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.
Awww, how cute. The "playful" brutal dictator that stuffs people in cells unfit for animals for having the audacity to oppose him peacefully.
Who let this idiot write this insulting crap?
Sort of the antithesis of good people die young.
The AP bureau in Havana is fully stocked with communists and wannabes. Ditto the CNN bureau, whose former chief went to work for Al Jazeera. Ni modo.
Hmm. Too old for a green military outfit and he’ll hold off on the dark suit until he’s in the coffin.
Maybe he wants people to see him as a young fresh hip hopper.
Next time we see him he’ll have oversize jeans worn halfway down his butt showing his boxers.
And sneakers with no laces.
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