Fidel Castro votes, chats in Cuban election

Sun Feb 3, 2013 8:35pm EST
 

By Marc Frank

HAVANA (Reuters) - Retired Cuban leader Fidel Castro voted in Cuba's general election on Sunday and chatted with well wishers and Cuban reporters in Havana for more than an hour, in his first extended public appearance since 2010.

Castro had voted from his home in three previous elections since taking ill in 2006 and ceding power to his brother Raul two years later.

A stooped, snow white bearded Castro, 86, was seen on state-run television as he cast his ballot in the late afternoon, wearing a blue plaid shirt and light blue jacket.

The announcer said Castro talked about efforts to reform the economy, Latin American integration, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and other matters.

He was heard in a weak voice praising popular participation in Sunday's election.

"The people are truly revolutionary, they have really sacrificed. We don't have to prove it, history will. Fifty years of the blockade and they haven't given in," he said.

Cubans went to the polls to elect a Communist Party-selected slate of 612 deputies to the National Assembly and more than 1,000 delegates to provincial assemblies, at a time of change in how they live and work, but not in how they vote.

President Raul Castro and other leaders were also shown on television casting their ballots and commenting on the importance of the election as a show of support for reforms and independence from the United States.   Continued...

 
Election officials sit at a table near pictures of Latin American revolutionary Ernesto Che Guevara (L) and Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez in Havana February 3, 2013. REUTERS/Enrique De La Osa