(Rodrigo Abd ~ Associated Press)
HAVANA -- Cuba passed the one-year anniversary of Fidel Castro's withdrawal from power without official mention of the fact Tuesday -- but Castro published an essay proclaiming Cuba's victories at the Pan American Games were a triumph for the revolution.
"On 59 occasions we heard the spirited notes of the Cuban National Anthem playing -- in spite of everything!" Castro wrote in the latest of a series of columns, referring to the 59 gold medals the country won during the hemispheric competition in Rio de Janeiro -- second only to the United States.
Castro, who turns 81 on Aug. 13, has not been seen in public since he underwent emergency intestinal surgery and withdrew from day-to-day government on July 31, 2006.
But Cuba's communist leadership has defied predictions it would weaken without the man who had led it since 1959, functioning smoothly under his brother Raul, the defense minister.
"The most important success of the revolution is the capacity to resist nearly half a century of blockade and privations of all sorts," Castro wrote Tuesday, referring to the U.S. embargo of his country.
In recent months he has made his opinions known through newspaper columns entitled "Reflections of the Commander in Chief," weighing in on Cuba's economy, the U.S. government and proposals to use food crops to produce ethanol.
The last five columns focused on the Pan American Games. Earlier in the month he had said he was so engrossed watching Cuba's performance on television that he sometimes forgot to eat and take his medicine.
The bearded leader is a lifelong sports fan and played basketball and baseball in his youth.
Officials have not said if Castro will resume his duties as president. Raul Castro, 76, appears to have consolidated his rule.
Official news media made no mention of the anniversary, but published fragments of a speech by the younger Castro commemorating the 50th anniversary of the death of revolutionary activist Frank Pais.
On Thursday, Raul Castro gave a Revolution Day speech recognizing that government salaries did not cover basic needs and saying the country needed "structural changes" he did not detail.