There is fresh concern over the fate of Fidel Castro after the Cuban leader missed the country’s Revolution Day celebrations. The news was hardly a surprise to most Cubans as he has failed to appear in public since undergoing stomach surgery a year ago.
However, his stand-in and brother, Raul, was on hand to speak in his place. An estimated 100,000 people packed into the main square in the city of Camaguey, around 500km east of the capital, Havana. But, although Raul made a big effort to move the crowd, the atmosphere appeared somewhat muted without Fidel.
Raul described his brother’s illness as a “hard blow” but said the outcome had been completely different to the chaos and collapse of Cuban socialism, predicted by the country’s enemies. In recent videos, Castro, who turns 81 next month, has been meeting foreign allies and has appeared to look stronger. His exact condition and whereabouts remain state secrets.