Fidel Castro has written a letter to Argentine football great Diego Maradona that appears to show the 88-year-old Cuban leader is alive despite a year-long absence from public view, a television network reported Monday. Maradona, a friend of Castro’s, was in Cuba taping some television shows.
Telesur, a Venezuelan-funded television network that broadcasts in Havana, showed images of Maradona reading the letter, but did not divulge its content. A photograph of the letter shows it was dated January 11 at 7:25 pm and bears Fidel’s signature.
Cuban authorities have been trying to tamp down a recent surge of rumors and speculation about Fidel’s health. The Cuban leader stepped down as president in 2006 because of a stomach ailment, turning over power to his brother Raul. He has not been seen in public since January 8, 2014 when he attended an art gallery opening near his home.
Castro has not spoken publicly about the bombshell announcement last month that the United States and Cuba plan to restore full diplomatic relations, ending a freeze of more than 50 years. Nor did he attend a welcoming ceremony for three Cuban agents released by the United States as part of the deal to prepare for those normalized relations. Those agents are commonly referred to here as heroes.