Cuban ex-President Fidel Castro launches memoirs

Sarah Rainsford who is in Havana said Castro looked animated in the video

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Former Cuban President Fidel Castro has made a rare public appearance to launch his memoirs.

The book, Guerrilla of Time, is almost 1,000 pages long and relates his childhood and rise to power in the Cuban Revolution.

Fidel Castro, 85, said it was every Cuban's duty to fight until the last moment, for Cuba, the planet, and humanity.

He had not been seen in public since April last year.

Communist Party newspaper Granma said the launch at the Havana Convention Centre lasted more than six hours.

The two-volume memoir is based on conversations between Fidel Castro and journalist Katiuska Blanco.

'Vivid memories'

It starts with former President Castro's earliest childhood memories and takes the reader up to December 1958, the eve of the overthrow of Fulgencio Batista by Castro and his followers.

Culture Minister Abel Prieto and Director of the Cuban Writers' Union Miguel Barnet were among those speaking at the launch.

Mr Barnet said the memoirs were "as vivid as a 3D film".

At the event, Fidel Castro spoke about current affairs, praising Latin American students for "standing up for their right to free education".

He also paid tribute to his friend, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who "had done more than anyone else for the Venezuelan people".

It was the first time Fidel Castro had appeared in public since the closing session of the Communist Party Congress in April 2011.

Fidel Castro handed over the presidency to his brother Raul in 2006, and has kept a low profile since, fuelling speculation over his health.

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