Fidel Castro was “healthy and alert” during a two-hour discussion about current affairs last week, a Spanish journalist told the Associated Press on Monday.
A snapshot of the meeting appeared in official media after days of speculation about the former Cuban president’s health, fuelled when he didn’t comment publicly on Nelson Mandela’s death. The former South African President was a close ally.
The photograph shows Castro, 87, gesturing while talking to writer Ignacio Ramonet.
Ramonet told the AP that he and Castro discussed a wide range of topics including Mandela, Venezuelan politics and climate change and "I found him to be in excellent health and in a good mood, physically, mentally and psychologically."
Castro left power after 47 years after suffering serious intestinal bleeding in 2006, handing his duties to his brother Raul. Ramonet has written extensively about Castro and late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who died of cancer last year.
"He's interested in everything. The environment, the climate crisis, Chile, Venezuela, South Africa," Ramonet said of Castro. "Everything interests him."
"I found him alert, on top of current events," Ramonet said. "We spoke a lot about Chavez," because Friday was the 19th anniversary of the two leaders' first meeting.
"It's clear that Castro hasn't forgotten him and maintains great affection for him," Ramonet said.