Today in Latin America
Top Story — Cuba’s former leader, Fidel Castro, made his first television appearance in 11 months on Monday when he was interviewed on the Cuban talkshow show “Mesa Redonda,” or “Round table.”
Dressed in a blue jacket and a checkered shirt, Castro discussed his views on current affairs in the Middle East and Asia including the conflict between North and South Korea.
Since undergoing emergency intestinal surgery in the summer of 2006 and handing over power his younger brother Raúl, the older Castro has stayed largely out of the public eye and focused most of his efforts on writing newspaer columns.
However, on this past Saturday photos were released of Castro during a visit to the National Center of Scientific Research in Havana.
The photos and television appearance come less then a week after the Cuban government agreed to release 52 political prisoners, in a deal mediated by the Catholic Church. Castro’s television appearance also comes at a time in which observers are watching Cuba closely, searching for signs of a transition to democracy and an improvement in the island nation’s human rights record.
“It would be reasonable to think that Castro is dying and there might be change in the air,” said Ian Vasquez, the director of the Cato Institute’s Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity, according to the Christian Science Monitor. “But his [appearance now] could be a signal to Cubans not to get high hopes. …. I think the more important message is: ‘I am still around, do not get any fancy ideas.’ ”
Below is the video of Castro’s appearance.
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Headlines from the Western Hemisphere
- A professional baseball game in Reynosa, Mexico was halted Sunday after gunfire erupted in the stadium when a group of unknown gunmen exchanged fire.
- The FBI joined an investigation into an El Paso, Texas hit-and-run and police chase in which the automobile involved may have also been used in a shootout in Juarez, Mexico.
- In a private meeting with White House officials, Democratic governors voiced concerns that the federal lawsuit against the Arizona immigration law could cost them votes in upcoming elections.
- The Haitian government officially began its reconstruction efforts Monday, on the six-month anniversary of the devastating Jan. 12 earthquake.
- The Cuban government freed seven political prisoners on Monday and sent them into exile in Spain, kicking off an expected mass liberation of more than 50 jailed dissidents.
- The federal government announced Monday a six-month extension for Haitians living in the U.S. to apply for temporary protected status.
- A ruling by the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal in the case of an immigrant woman from Guatemala may make it possible for Guatemalan women to apply for asylum due to the country’s high rate of femicide.
- Islanders living off the coast of Panama are being forced to leave their ancestral homes due to rising sea levels associated with global warming.
- Nicaraguan ex-president Arnoldo Aleman will likely run against President Daniel Ortega in the country’s next presidential elections after Aleman accepted his party’s nomination Sunday.
- An American documentary filmmaker revealed in court that a Texas law firm had sent him to Nicaragua in order to spy on the Dole Food Company. Dole is currently facing a lawsuit for exposing Nicaraguan workers to pesticides.
- Oil pipelines and pumps in Venezuela’s Lake Maracaibo have been leaking for weeks, according to fisherman who have been affected by the spills.
- The U.S. Embassy in Lima announced Monday that it would offer up to $5 million for the capture of two Shining Path guerrilla leaders in its new Narcotics Rewards Program.
- Responding to criticism for her plans to seek government compensation for her six-year kidnapping ordeal, former Colombian presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt said Monday that she was not actually planning to “sue” the government, but is issuing a request for conciliation.
- The Andean Development Corp. (CAF) approved a $300 million loan to Ecuador to fund development projects.
- Mormon Church leaders in Salt Lake city urged church members in Argentina to oppose a bill coming before the Argentine Senate to legalize gay marriage.
- A week after Brazilian goalie Bruno Fernandes was arrested as a suspect in the brutal murder of his ex-mistress, a government study published Sunday shows that an average of ten Brazilian women are killed every day by their partners.
- A 6.1-magnitude earthquake hit northern Chile Sunday, but there were no reports of fatalities or major damage.