After much speculation on Twitter about Fidel Castro’s whereabouts, including rumors of his death, Cuba’s revolutionary leader broke months of silence on Thursday by publishing a letter in the Cuban government-run newspaper, Granma. The last time Castro was seen in public was in March, when he met with Pope Benedict XVI during the pontiff’s visit to Cuba. Previous to Thursday’s letter, Castro had not written one of his opinion columns, known as Reflections of Fidel, since June 19.
In his letter, Castro acknowledged the founders and graduating students of the Havana medical institute El Instituto de Ciencias Básicas y Preclínicas Victoria de Girón (Bay of Pigs Victory Institute of Basic and Preclinical Sciences) on its 50th anniversary. He reminisced that shortly after the institute opened in 1962, it was converted into an anti-aircraft installation during the Cuban missile crisis, which occurred 50 years ago this week. “In that spirit, the tradition of that medical institution was born and grew,” wrote Castro, adding that the institution “was able to forge tens of thousands of professionals and take our country to the highest levels of prevention and health.”
Rumors about Castro’s own health have been making the rounds in recent weeks, after Castro was conspicuously absent in congratulating longtime supporter Hugo Chávez on his re-election to the Venezuelan presidency on October 7. Castro claims that he has survived more than 600 assassination attempts. Whenever rumors of his death circulate, Castro tends to make public appearances to prove that he remains alive.