Fidel Castro makes first public appearance

Castro appears frail, using a cane during visit to Havana art gallery

By Carlos Suarez - Anchor/Reporter , Michelle Lacamoire - Producer

New photos were released Thursday of a frail Fidel Castro during his first public appearance in nearly a year.

The former Cuban leader was photographed Wednesday while attending the opening of an art gallery in Havana run by local artist Alexis Leyva.

PHOTOS: Castro makes public appearance

The photos show the 87-year-old wrapped in a scarf and jacket, using a cane and leaning on an aide for support as he walked through the gallery.

In a statement issued Thursday afternoon, U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen said, "Photos of Cuba's decrepit oppressor always generate interest but what should be given the same amount of coverage are the daily privations endured by the Cuban people. There is still no right to free speech, freedom of the press, and free and fair elections in Cuba. We should continue to work for the day Cubans no longer need to heed tyrants."

The last time Castro was seen in public was last April for a school opening.

Pictures of Castro are periodically published to dispel rumors of his death.  Castro is normally pictured sitting down as he was most recently photographed in December during a visit with Spanish journalist Ignacio Ramonet.  Ramonet wrote that he saw Castro in "excellent health."

Castro handed over power to his younger brother Raul after falling gravely ill in 2006.

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