HAVANA — Fidel Castro spent six hours presenting a two-volume memoir to an audience at a Havana convention center, state media said Saturday. It was a rare appearance for the retired and increasingly reclusive former Cuban leader.
Images on state television showed a smiling, animated Castro wearing a dark track suit over a blue plaid button-up shirt.
Audio of him speaking was not broadcast, but Communist Party newspaper Granma said he told attendees Friday that they would hear about "two books that you haven't had any news of."
Granma said the two-tome memoir, "Guerrilla of Time," fills nearly 1,000 pages and covers Castro's life from childhood until December 1958, the eve of the triumph of the Cuban Revolution. It is based on interviews with journalist Katiuska Blanco.
"I have to take advantage now, because memory fades," Granma quoted Castro as saying.
Castro, 85, stepped aside provisionally in 2006 due to a life-threatening illness and retired permanently two years later, clearing the way for his younger brother and long-designated successor Raul to take over.
Fidel Castro is seldom seen in public these days, though he did show up at a Communist Party congress last April, holding the arm of an aide as he entered to a standing ovation and tears.
Granma said he mused about a wide range of topics Friday including visits from foreign dignitaries, world events and technological advances.
He reportedly expressed deep opposition to private education and said Cuban leaders were wrong to think that simply by implementing socialism, all the island's economic problems would be solved.
"Our duty is to fight until the last minute for our country, for our planet and for humanity," he was quoted as saying.
Essentially out of the public eye, Castro now speaks to Cubans through sporadic columns called "Reflections" that are published in government-run newspapers and painstakingly read aloud by newscasters.
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