The Miami Herald
Fri, Feb. 13, 2009

New photos released of Fidel Castro with Chile leader


The Chilean government released photographs of president Michelle Bachelet's meeting this week with retired Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

The pictures show Castro, 82, wearing a white track suit jacket and gray pants. He appears well groomed and alert.

Castro has been out of public view for 2 ½ years, since an intestinal illness caused him to step down from power. Last month, South Florida was awash in rumors that he was gravely ill or even dead -- until he proved he was still alive by meeting with the president of Argentina.

Bachelet had nice things to say about Castro and their 90-minute meeting. But upon her departure from Cuba, Castro penned a new column criticizing the "vengeful and fascist oligarchy [that] restrains the Chilean nation.''

Castro caused a flap Friday for commenting on Chile's long-standing dispute with neighboring Bolivia. Both nations are on friendly terms with Cuba, but Castro sided with Bolivia in a land dispute that dates back to 1879.

''It is in bad taste when, right after meeting with [Bachelet], he publishes statements that clearly go against our country,'' Chilean Christian-Democratic deputy Patricio Walker told El Mercurio newspaper. 'There is no reason for him to get involved in the topic of the Bolivians' corridor to the sea.''