New photos show Fidel Castro with US journalist

Cuba has released pictures of Fidel Castro with an American magazine correspondent and a Washington-based policy expert.

Havana: Cuba has released pictures of Fidel
Castro with an American magazine correspondent and a
Washington-based policy expert, while a Mexican newspaper
published an interview in which the gray-bearded revolutionary
expressed regret for past persecution of homosexuals.

The images show Cuba`s 84-year-old former leader with
Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic and Julia E Sweig from the
Council on Foreign Relations during a visit Monday to the
Havana aquarium _ Castro`s second trip there during a media
blitz that has seen him making near daily appearances.

Goldberg is a national correspondent for the magazine
who has written on the Middle East and Iran. State media
reported that he and Sweig interviewed Castro, but gave no
indication of what was said.

For months, Castro has warned of nuclear war that
would pit Washington and Israel against Iran and would also
involve an attack on North Korea. He even said he expected
fighting to begin earlier this summer, but has since said
those doomsday predictions may have been somewhat premature.

The Council on Foreign Relations is a nonpartisan
think tank with offices in New York and Washington, and Sweig
is a longtime scholar on the US-Cuba relationship.

Also yesterday, Mexico`s left-leaning daily La Jornada
published an interview in which Castro said Cuban authorities
had been wrong to send gays and lesbians to work camps in the
early years of his government.

"Those were moments of great injustice, great
injustice!" the paper quoted Castro as saying.

In the 1960s and early 1970s, Cuban officials fired
homosexuals from state jobs, imprisoned them or sent them to
work camps. Castro told La Jornada, "Yes, we did it, us," but
also said, "I am trying to limit my responsibility in all this
because, of course, I personally do not hold those kinds of

Still, when pressed if the Communist Party or some
other entity was behind what occurred Castro said, "No, if any
person was responsible, it`s me."

He said he had been too busy coping with events such
as the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis to stop what occurred. "We
had so many and such terrible problems, problems of life or death, that we didn`t pay it enough attention."
Government media campaigns now discourage homophobia
and the state has even paid for a few sex-change operations
for transsexuals.

Also, Fidel`s niece Mariela, the daughter of President
Raul Castro, is today the country`s leading gay rights
Castro`s comments to La Jornada elaborated on past
acknowledgements of his government`s mistreatment of gays.


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