Fidel Castro in July 2006
Hugo Chavez said today he doubts Fidel Castro will ever appear in public again. This AP story quotes the Venezuelan president as saying:
That Fidel in his uniform who walked the streets and towns late at night, hugging the people, won't return. That will remain in memories.Chavez didn't elaborate, but said no matter what happens:
Fidel will live forever, beyond the physical life.
Castro, 82, last appeared in public on July 26, 2006. I shot photos at both his appearances that day. He looked strong. He talked about a range of topics, including, ironically, what it takes for people to stay healthy and live for a long time - comments that I don't believe were part of his prepared remarks.
More recent photos showing the evolution of Castro's physical appearance are here on the Havana Journal Web site.
I am sure that Chavez has insight into reasons why Castro decided to limit appearances after falling ill in July 2006. I can only guess that Castro considered his image and his legacy and opted to drop from public view.
I find Chavez' comments interesting. He's acknowledging what many had suspected, that Castro won't return. Some people believe Chavez is foreshadowing something else, that Castro is on his death bed or worse. That may be. But I try not to read too much into what Chavez says. He's a blustery guy who loves to talk and he's not nearly as discreet or cautious as those in Castro's inner circle. We'll just have to wait and see what's going on.
Update: Cuban Colada pulled together the latest signs pointing to Fidel Castro dropping further out of sight. They are here.