Fidel Castro Presses Flesh in First Public Appearance in a Year

The former Cuban leader reportedly appeared energetic meeting students.

April 4, 2015, 7:18 PM

— -- Fidel Castro has made his first public appearance in more than a year.

On Monday, in true Castro fashion, 88, the former commandant of Cuba surprised students at a school and shaking hands with members of a Venezuelan delegation.

The visit came as part of a Venezuelan delegation cultural exchange visit.

A reporter with Radio del Sur of Venezuela posted the picture at Vilma Espin School in Cuba, adding that Castro spoke for around 30 minutes to the group of 40 about Venezuela issues.

According to Dos Santos, Fidel asked: "How many signatures have been collected against imperial decree? I know that you need more than 5 million of signatures," in reference to the recently imposed U.S. sanctions on Venezuela.

"Fidel Castro is very lucid, looks great physically, has a twinkle in his eye," said Light Nieda Parra, a journalist who accompanied the tour.

Official photos from the state run media also show the former Cuban president shaking hands while seated in a bus, with official media saying he was "full of vitality."

While photos of Castro have been seen in over the past few month, this visit marks his first appearance in a public setting.

Photos of a January visit with the president of Cuba's University Students Federation (FEU) were released in February and in March the official press published photos of Castro meeting with the Cuban 5 -- the agents labeled as Heroes in Cuba, two of whom were released in December as part of a prisoner exchange and restoration of diplomatic ties between the U.S. and Cuba. Both visits being held at Castro's private residence.

The last time Castro was seen in public was more than a year ago -- January 8, 2014, when he attended an art gallery opening near his home.

The pictures come as the current president and Fidel's brother, Raul Castro, prepares for the Summit of the Americas in Panama next week. The first time the island nation was invited to attend and could possibly play host to the first meeting between the two countries presidents in more than half a century.

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