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Cuba's Fidel Castro Makes Rare Public Appearance

FILE - Fidel Castro in Havana, Cuba, April 19, 2015.
FILE - Fidel Castro in Havana, Cuba, April 19, 2015.

Cuba's former president Fidel Castro made a rare public appearance Thursday to discuss a Cuban revolutionary leader with schoolchildren, his first such appearance in nine months.

State television aired video of Castro, who is 89, discussing revolutionary leader Vilma Espin with schoolchildren and teachers.

He praised Espin's contributions at a school named for her. Until her death in 2007, Espin was married to Fidel Castro's brother Raul, took over the presidency from Fidel a year later, in 2008.

Fidel Castro's appearance Thursday came a week after he published a letter critical of U.S. President Barack Obama in Cuba's official Communist Party newspaper, Granma, after Obama's historic visit to Cuba - the first such visit by a U.S. president in nearly nine decades.

Castro said Cuba does not need anything from "the empire," meaning the United States. His position is at odds with that of President Raul Castro who welcomed Obama's visit and agreed to the restoration of diplomatic ties between Cuba and the United States last year.

Fidel Castro's appearance comes as Cuba's Communist Party prepares for a convention April 16 in which it is expected to lay out its economic and political plans for the next five years. The meeting could include discussion of who will take over the presidency after Raul Castro retires in the next few years.