Fidel Castro Spotted, Brother Raul Replaces Fidel Loyalists With His Own

An ailing Fidel Castro hasn’t made many public appearances since taking ill in 2006, prompting endless rumors about the Cuban leader’s proximity to death. The New York Times reports (via The Daily Beast)  Castro was spotted walking the streets of Havana recently after being released from the hospital. He casually strolled around, trailed heavily by security and sporting shorts and a track jacket.

Meanwhile, Fidel’s brother Raul Castro, who assumed leadership of Cuba in February 2008, was busy creating his own political shakeup.  Raul replaced several top-ranking government officials who were loyal to Fidel, replacing them with men closer to Raul. Those ousted include the longtime foreign minister and the secretary of the Council of State. The most prominent official to lose his position was Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque, who was the youngest of Cuba's top leaders. Raul also reduced the enormous powers of a vice president credited with saving Cuba's economy after the fall of the Soviet Union.

The unexpected restructuring, which also consolidated some of Cuba's many ministries to create a "more compact and functional structure," was the first major political shakeup under Raul Castro.