Cuba publishes Castro photos to quiet rumours of ill health

Fresh images released by Cuban state media show former president Fidel Castro at his home with his wife, Dalia, during a meeting with the leader of a students’ union. The 88-year-old Castro had remained out of the public eye since the United States and Cuba announced in December they were going to restore diplomatic relations after a half century of enmity stemming from the Cold War. Castro’s silence prompted chatter on social media and in foreign media that he was sick or had even died.

Fidel is extraordinary.

Headline from the state-run newspaper Granma

Rumours of Castro’s demise have cropped up often since he stepped down from office during a health crisis in 2006. Raul Castro, the longtime armed forces chief, took his brother’s place at Cuba’s helm. The new photos and accompanying article in Cuban newspaper said the meeting between Castro and the student leader came four days before Castro finally broke his silence on the diplomatic breakthrough with the United States. The article noted that although Castro was wary of his old enemy, he did not oppose it and viewed the historic change as a “positive step”.