Former Cuban President Fidel Castro presented a two-volume memoir at a public ceremony in Havana, where he referred to the mistake of believing that with socialism all economic problems are solved, official media said Saturday.
The leader of the Cuban Revolution, 85, who left office in 2006 due to an illness, conversed for six hours with guests at Friday's presentation of the two volumes of Guerrillero del Tiempo (Guerrilla of Time), written by author and journalist Katiuska Blanco.
This was Castro's first public appearance since April 2011, when he attended the closure of the 6th Communist Party Congress, at which his younger brother, President Raul Castro, replaced him as head of the organization.
The nearly 1,000-page memoir begins with the first recollections of his childhood and ends December 1958 on the eve of the guerrilla movement's victory that brought down the dictator Fulgencio Batista.
Wearing an athletic jacket and checked shirt, according to photos published in Cuban newspapers and on the official Web site Cubadebate, Fidel Castro spoke on a variety of subjects during the event attended by leading Cuban intellectuals and by Culture Minister Abel Prieto.
He spoke, according to official media, of the mistake of believing that socialism means all economic problems are solved, of his deepest opposition to students having to pay for their education, and about international affairs like the dispute over the Falkland Islands, that bit of land snatched from Argentina, he said.
The admirable struggles that today's Latin American students and students around the world are waging for their rights was another topic he discussed.
“We must support the ideas of the young Chilean leader Camila Vallejo so that education is free and accessible to all. But not only free and accessible but concerned about what is taught”, said the ailing leader.
Castro said he closely followed the events in Venezuela under President Hugo Chavez, with whom Castro is good friends. No one did more [than Chavez] for the people of Venezuela, the Bolivarian Movement, he underlined.
Fidel Castro did not rule out continuing to write. I have to do it now because one's memory wears out, he said.
After six hours of conversation, Castro, according to the report in the daily Granma, regretted having to leave but said he is a collaborator of the doctors treating him.
In July 2010 Castro made a surprise return to public life after four years of convalescence from the serious illness that forced him to delegate the Cuban presidency to younger brother Raul in 2006.
From that time the Cuban leader has participated with irregular frequency in meetings, visits, ceremonies and press conferences with Cuban and foreign reporters. His last public appearance was last April at the 6th Communist Party Congress.
Guerrillero del Tiempo was written by Cuban journalist Katiuska Blanco, who is also the author of Todo el Tiempo de los Cedros (All the Days of the Cedars), an official history of the Castro family published in 2003.
The memoirs come ahead of Tuesday which marks the 50th anniversary of the United States' trade embargo with Cuba, the longest running embargo ever.