Thursday, August 13, 2009

Exhibit photo shows healthier looking Fidel Castro

By ANDREA RODRIGUEZ (AP)

HAVANA — Cuba has unveiled what it says is a recent photograph of ex-President Fidel Castro, showing him looking healthier than in other pictures since he underwent emergency surgery three years ago.

The photograph is the centerpiece of an exhibit that opened Wednesday dedicated to the former leader. Today is his 83rd birthday.

Curator Arturo Suarez said the large image of Castro was taken by his son, Alex Castro, who he said is a professional photographer. Wearing a blue baseball cap, a white sports jacket and black shirt, Fidel looks better than in other shots that have shown him looking gaunt since he gave up the presidency.

The close-up portrait was taken "very recently," Suarez said. He didn't give the date or other details.

"Life gave me the opportunity to take this photo and, I must say, I have some advantage because I can do it up close," Alex Castro told reporters.

"83 Motives" features 80 photos and three paintings of Fidel. Among them are Fidel in New York in 1955, with Pope John Paul II in Cuba in 1998, with fellow revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara in 1959 and with writer Ernest Hemingway in 1960. Others depict him scuba diving, canoeing in Venezuela and fixing a tire on a Jeep.

Castro stepped down as president in February 2008 and has not been seen in public for three years, though he has published dozens of essays in state newspapers.

He was expected to celebrate his birthday in private. No official celebrations were scheduled, but Cuban workers and other groups planned small celebrations.

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JG: Happy Birthday Fidel!

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