The president of Brazil, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, met with former Cuban president Fidel Castro in Havana just before concluding a two-day visit to Cuba, this Friday, October 31. The private encounter lasted about one hour and a half.
Commenting on the meeting Lula said that the ailing 82-year-ol Fidel looked "very healthy mentally. He has an extraordinary mind and is as lucid as ever. I told him when I arrived that I felt he seemed downcast. After half an hour of conversation I was the one who looked sick."
The Brazilian leader revealed that he and Castro talked about the international financial crisis and several other themes related to South America and Latin America.
The last time Fidel showed up in public was in July 2006. After 49 years as Cuba's ruler, he resigned the presidency due to health problems being replaced by his brother, Raúl Castro.
Lula was asked by a reporter what the Cuban leader thought about the global financial crisis, but wouldn't reveal what Castro told him. The Brazilian president told reporters, however, that he and Fidel agreed that it's up to the developed countries to calm the markets and solve the problem they created.
Will Fidel ever return to power, a reporter asked. "If it depends on a political head, he is in as good shape and as ready as he was before".
Castro wrote in an article published in the state-owned Granma newspaper that Lula was "brave" to declare that he is rooting for Barack Obama to be the next American president.
If the republican candidate, John McCain, wins, Fidel mused "he would not be counting in advance on the largest Latin-American country, Brazil."
Lula commented recently that the current international crisis had a silver lining: assuring Barack Obama's victory.
"Just as Brazil elected a lathe operator, Bolivia an aboriginal (Evo Morales), Venezuela (Hugo) Chávez and Paraguay a former-bishop (Fernando Lugo), I think that it will be something extraordinary if a black is elected president in the world's largest economy."
Fidel confided that he had recently sent Lula a letter saying that "whoever is the United States ruler after the current crisis needs to feel heavy pressure from Third World's peoples demanding solutions in which every body takes part, and not only a group of states."
"The wealthier nations desperately need that the poor nation consume, otherwise their goods and services producing centers would paralyze", said Fidel.
It was announced that President Raul Castro will travel to Brazil to attend a summit in December. That would be the Cuban leader's first trip overseas since becoming the island's president.
"We are pleased to learn that finally his excellency will travel to Brazil to participate in the first meeting of Latin American and Caribbean nations, without interference from any other power," Lula said in Havana.