Latin America & Caribbean

Cuba releases new pictures of ex-leader Fidel Castro

Former Cuban President Fidel Castro and Randy Perdomo look at a newspaper during a meeting in Havana in this picture provided by Cubadebate on 2 February 2015 Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Randy Perdomo said the pictures were taken during a meeting on 23 January 2015

Cuban state media have published a series of photographs of former President Fidel Castro, the first to be released in nearly six months.

The release of the photographs, reportedly taken in January, comes after renewed speculation about the 88-year-old ex-leader's health.

Mr Castro has not been seen in public for more than a year.

The photos show him in conversation with student leader Randy Perdomo at Mr Castro's home in Havana.

Dispelling rumours

Fidel Castro led Cuba for nearly half a century before handing over power to his brother, Raul, in 2006 because of ill health.

Rumours about his imminent death have surfaced on a number of occasions over the past decade.

Only a few weeks ago Mr Castro sent a letter to former footballer Diego Maradona to quash rumours that he had died.

In a long article published in the state-run newspaper Granma and on state-run websites, Mr Perdomo recounted his encounter with Mr Castro.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Mr Perdomo described Mr Castro as lively and engaging

He said that the meeting took place on 23 January and that he had an "animated" conversation with Mr Castro lasting more than three hours.

More than 20 photographs show Mr Castro in what appears to be good health.

He can be seen leafing through a newspaper and looking at a commemorative plate given to him by the student union leader.

Mr Perdomo said he contacted Mr Castro to tell him about his student union's plans to commemorate the 70th anniversary since Mr Castro enrolled at university.

He said he was surprised to be invited to Mr Castro's home.

He described the revolutionary leader as "full of life, conversing intelligently" and full of curiosity for a wide variety of topics.

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