Rumors have circulated for some time that Fidel Castro was dead or near-death. Last week, to prove otherwise, Cuba released a long letter by Fidel. Now, to pound home the point, Cuba has released some photos of Castro on the theory that pictures don’t lie. These are the first photos of Castro released since August, Reuters reported.

Be advised, however, that while pictures may not lie, those who fool around with them do. Official photos of Castro released by Cuba’s government have been doctored in the past. Last year, the Associated Press removed seven photographs of the leader from its archive after determining the images were altered to delete what appeared to be Castro’s hearing aid.

“We have concluded that a number of official photographs of Fidel Castro were manipulated,” the AP said at the time. “Removing elements from a photograph is entirely unacceptable and is in clear violation of AP’s standards.”

Anyway, as Cuba’s leader in name or in spirit, Fidel Castro, 88, has outlasted presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Clinton and two Bushes.

But how’s the octogenarian looking as President Obama tries to thaw diplomatic relations with Florida’s island neighbor?

The photos were released with a piece published in Granma — that’s the “official voice of the Communist Party of Cuba Central Committee.” The article detailed a meeting between Castro and student leader Randy Garcia Perdomo, who wrote it.

“Especially Randy — prepare yourself,” the aging revolutionary told Perdomo. “I’ll tell anecdotes, when we meet, about our experiences in the Sierra.”

Perdomo met with Castro, and was pretty enthused about the get-together.

“Fidel followed one constant march — to the beat of our time — like an everlasting symbol, like a universal, eternal youth,” Perdomo wrote. “I cannot express everything in words, because this is a dream. The essence of miracles is unattainable even though we try. Fidel is one of a kind.”