Fidel Castro beat back rumors of his demise today with a bylined piece on a state-run news site that included photographs of the former Cuban president reading Friday’s newspaper.
That appears to be the ailing Castro’s preferred method of proving he’s still alive. After undergoing surgery last year, he released this photo of him reading the same state newspaper, Granma, with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez:
And here is Castro in 2006 pulling the same move in a not-terribly-convincing photo that raised accusations of Photoshopping:
Similar doubt was cast on an image in 2009 of Tamil Tigers leader Velupillaï Prabhakaran purporting to watch news coverage of his death. He was, it turned out, actually dead.
Brandishing a recent newspaper to prove you’re alive is a common trope of fictional (and sometimes real-life) kidnappers. World leaders are less likely to use the trick, but it has even been wielded to prove the longevity of Humphrey, the former house cat at the UK prime minister’s residence, 10 Downing Street.
After the Blair administration banished Humphrey to suburban London, a Conservative MP accused the Blairs of killing the cat. To counter those accusations, the Blairs actually invited journalists to photograph Humphrey, who would live another nine years, posing with copies of that day’s papers: