HAVANA - Former Cuban President Fidel Castro reappeared in public in Havana for the first time in two years as he paid tribute to his deceased sister-in-law, according to Cuban state television.
Castro, whose 90th birthday is in August, visited a school in Havana named after Vilma Espin, the wife of his younger brother Raul.
Espin passed away in 2007 and is considered one of the heroines of the Revolution. She also founded the Federation of Cuban Women (FMC).
State television on Thursday broadcast images of Castro, sitting with students and teachers from kindergarten and primary schools, as they marked Espin's 86th birthday.
It was the former president's first public appearance since 09 January 2014, when he attended the studio of artist Alexis Leyva 'Kcho' in Havana's Romerillo neighborhood.
State television showed Castro, wearing a white sports jacket and black cap, sitting and chatting animatedly with his audience.
"I am sure that on a day like today, Vilma would be very happy because she would be seeing why she sacrificed her life for," he said, referring to Espin's work advocating for education and children.
"Everyone who dies fighting for the revolution leaves energy in their wake, they leave the effort and struggle," he added.
Castro stepped down in 2006 after serious illness, handing over the Cuban presidency to Raul.
Since then his public appearances have been rare, but he occasionally publishes articles in the official state newspaper Granma.
His most recent article was an opinion piece on Mar. 28 in response to the historic visit of US President Barack Obama, in which he wrote "Cuba does not need gifts from the empire".
Castro frequently receives visits from foreign dignitaries at his home, including recently from Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and former Uruguayan President Jose Mujica.