Ailing Cuban President Fidel Castro has appeared in four photographs published on his 80th birthday Sunday to reassure Cubans he is still alive following intestinal surgery.
The Juventud Rebelde newspaper printed the first photos of the Cuban leader, who had not been seen in public since the announcement of his surgery July 31st. The photos show him wearing a red, white and blue track suit - the colors of the Cuban flag. In one photo, he is holding up a tribute to him published Saturday by the Communist Party newspaper, Granma.
A message accompanying the photographs quoted Mr. Castro as saying he feels very happy, and called for Cubans to be optimistic about his health. But he warned they should be prepared for what he called any adverse news.
Raul Castro, who is running the country while his brother recovers, Sunday welcomed Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to Havana to celebrate Fidel Castro's birthday.
Raul Castro, the defense minister, is acting as Cuban president. The appearance Sunday was the first time Raul Castro had been seen publicly since his brother had surgery.