January 28, 2015 / 11:45 PM / 3 years ago

Fidel Castro in good health, Brazilian visitor says

HAVANA (Reuters) - Retired Cuban leader Fidel Castro is in good health, appearing skinny but lucid, a Brazilian theologian who met with him told official Cuban media on Wednesday.

A student holds a photograph of Cuba's former President Fidel Castro near the memorial of Jose Marti on Revolution Square in Havana January 28, 2015. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini

Castro, 88, who stepped down from power in 2008, has not been seen in public in a year and his photograph has not appeared in Cuban media since August, giving rise to speculation about his health.

“The commander (Castro) enjoys very good health is in very good spirits,” the writer and activist Carlos Alberto Libanio Christo, better known as Friar Betto, told Cuban state television on Wednesday after meeting Castro in Havana on Tuesday.

The Cuban news agency Prensa Latina quoted Betto as saying Castro looked thin and took copious notes during their conversation. Castro was lucid and well-informed on national and international affairs, he said.

Though Castro periodically writes a column, he went silent for several weeks after his younger brother and current president, Raul Castro, and U.S. President Barack Obama announced on Dec. 17 they would restore diplomatic ties.

On Jan. 12, Castro sent a letter to friend and retired Argentine soccer star Diego Maradona to squelch rumors that he had died. On Monday he finally commented on U.S. relations, offering lukewarm support for the agreement his brother reached with Obama.

“I don’t trust the policy of the United States, nor have I had an exchange with them, but this does not mean ... a rejection of a peaceful solution to conflicts or the dangers of war,” Fidel Castro said in a statement published on Monday on the website of Cuba’s Communist Party newspaper Granma.

Reporting by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Alan Crosby

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