In his first public appearance since April 2011, former President Fidel Castro of Cuba spent six hours Friday presenting Part I of his 1000 page two-volume memoir at a book launch.
"I have to seize the opportunity now, because memory fades,” the 85-year-old Castro told guests at the Palace of Conventions in Havana.
The book, “Fidel Castro Ruz: Guerrillero del tiempo” (Fidel Castro Ruz: Guerrilla of Time), is a compilation, in nearly one thousand pages, of conversations between Castro and journalist Katiuska Blanco, the Guardian News reported.
State run television released images, though not audio, of a smiling, animated Castro wearing his signature jogging suit flannel shirt combo - a navy blue Adidas tracksuit trimmed in white strips over a plaid button-up flannel shirt.
Guerrilla of Time seems to extend the "small autobiography" from his book The Strategic Victory published in August 2010, in which Blanco also collaborated.
In a “Reflections of Fidel Castro” column published on the Web site of Granma, the official publication of the Cuban Communist Party, Castro expressed a desire to publish an additional book that would respond to numerous questions asked “about my childhood, adolescence and youth, stages which converted me into a revolutionary and armed combatant,”he said.
The memoir covers Castro's life from childhood until December 1958, the eve of the overthrow of Fulgencio Batista by Castro and his followers, the BCC reported.
“I'm willing to do everything possible to convey what I remember well,” he said. “I've been expressing all the ideas I had and the feelings that I went through. I am aware of the importance of telling all this to pass it so that it can be useful.”
Roberto Chile / Cubadebate
From left to right, Miguel Barnet, Abel Prieto, Fidel Castro and Katyusha White presenting "Guerrilla time."
Director of the Cuban Writers' Union Miguel Barnet, who attended the launch, praised the memoir.
Castro, through the eyes of the child he once was, "displayed a prodigious memory, with unusual details ranging from age two when he still had no idea of death, and had witnessed the sad funeral of an uncle," he said.
Cuban Culture Minister Abel Prieto praised the attention given to Castro's father, Don Angel Castro in the book. Castro described his father as "a man of character" and "of evil genius that commanded respect."
After six hours, Cuba's Radio Angulo reported, Castro "regretted that time had run out."
This was Castro's first public appearance since April 6, 2011, when he attended the closing session of the Communist Party Congress, at which his younger brother, President Raul Castro, officially replaced him as head of the organization.
Castro handed over the presidency to Raul in 2008, after undergoing emergency intestinal surgery in July 2006 due to a life-threatening illness. Since then, Castro has kept a low public profile, fueling speculation that might be "incapacitated or even dead," the New York Times reported.