Last seen in April, 2011, 85-year-old Fidel Castro made a rare public appearance in Havana. Castro attended a ceremony to launch his 1,000 page, two-volume memoir, Fidel Castro Ruz: A Guerilla of Time.
The memoir follows the life of Castro from his infancy until 1958, when he led a revolution that transformed Cuba into a communist country. Formerly dominated by the U.S., Cuba became aligned with the Soviet Union.
Castro conversed with journalist Katiuska Blanco to prepare the memoir according to his recollection of the events. During the presentation ceremony on Friday at Havana's Palace of Conventions, the Herald Sun reports Castro told guests, “I have to seize the opportunity now because my memory is spent.”
In attendance at the ceremony were author of the book Blanco, Cuba's cultural minister Abel Prieto and president of the Union of Writers and Artists, Miguel Barnet.
The former Cuban leader has not made a public appearance since last April. In 2011, he attended the closing ceremony of the Communist Party congress.
Official newspapers Granma and Young Rebel and the website Cubadebate reported Castro was quoted as saying, “I'm willing to do everything possible to convey what I remember well.” Castro is expressing ideas he had as well as feelings.
During his conversations with Blanco, Castro revealed he liked old boots, eyeglasses and clocks but everything in politics to be new. The book is presented in a series of questions and answers and was published by Editora Abril. Photographs and drawings are from Cuban painter Ernesto Rancano.
Blanco also authored the first official biography of Castro and his family. In 2006, there was a different series of conversations between Castro and journalist Ignacio Romonet published entitled One Hundred Hours with Fidel.
Castro faced health issues in 2006 and turned power over to his brother Raul. Castro still writes a media column, “Reflections,” stating his views about current events. During the presentation ceremony, Castro discussed international policies including events in Venezuela under his friend Hugo Chavez as well as Chilean protests fighting for equal education.
Castro also offered congratulations to five Cuban agents convicted of espionage in the U.S. Their work was monitoring anti-Castro groups in Miami and the government refers to them as heroes.
In January, Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney appealed to Hispanic voters in Florida, stating he would take a more aggressive stance against the Communist regime in Cuba than the Obama administration.
Romney criticized Obama for “appeasement” of a U.S. trade embargo and travel restrictions, opposed by many Cuban-American Republicans. Fox News reports Romney said, “I want to be the American president that is proud to be able to say I was president at the time we brought freedom back to the people of Cuba.”
Castro wrote in a colum for a state-run newspaper and responded by stating, "The selection of a Republican candidate for president of that globalized and encompassing empire is, I say this seriously, the greatest competition of idiocy and ignorance that has ever been heard.”
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