Cuba celebrates Fidel Castro's 84th birthday

Updated: 2010-08-14 15:38
Large Medium Small

HAVANA - Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro turned 84 on Friday, claiming that he is still a revolutionary "full of energy."

"I have not changed," Castro wrote in an article published by local media Friday. "I will be faithful to the principles and ethics that I have practiced since I became a revolutionary."

Cuba celebrates Fidel Castro's 84th birthday
A woman looks at a poster of Cuba's former leader Fidel Castro while attending his birthday celebrations organized by the Union of Communist Youth (UJC) in Havana August 13, 2010. [Agencies]

Cuban people celebrated the birthday of their revolutionary leader with a series of cultural street events.

An art festival named "With Fidel, for Peace," began Thursday with a series of concerts, book readings, and art activities. Another concert is planned Saturday on the steps of the University of Havana, where Castro studied law.

Related readings:
Cuba celebrates Fidel Castro's 84th birthday Fidel Castro's autobiography on sale
Cuba celebrates Fidel Castro's 84th birthday Fidel Castro appears in parliament, warns of nuclear war
Cuba celebrates Fidel Castro's 84th birthday Castro leads ceremony unveiling his new book
Cuba celebrates Fidel Castro's 84th birthday Fidel Castro to publish new book on guerrilla life

On Friday, visiting Colombian Senator Piedad Cordoba congratulated Castro on his birthday and presented him with several books on the history and current situation of Colombia, while Castro gave his guest autographed copies of his new book.

"You are and always will be a luminous example ... of commitment to the revolutionary struggle, Fidel. Congratulations comrade!" Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez told his old friend on his Twitter account.

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega congratulated Castro on his 84th birthday and contributions to the development of Cuba's society, science and culture in a letter to the former Cuban leader

Castro led Cuba for 48 years after the 1959 revolution, and handed over power to his brother Raul four years ago due to an intestinal surgery.

However, after a long period of absence, Fidel Castro returned to public life on July 7, and has made numerous public appearances over the past few weeks highlighting the danger of imminent global nuclear war.

Last weekend, he delivered a speech on the Iranian nuclear issue before Cuba's parliament, his first official appearance in four years.

Dressed in an olive green military shirt without rank insignias, the revolutionary leader was greeted with applause as he walked in. Assembly members interrupted their session to give him a standing ovation and shout over and over, "Viva Fidel!" as the father of the revolution entered the chamber in an event broadcast live on state television and radio.

In sharp contrast to his previous long speeches, Castro only spoke for just over 10 minutes, warning that there could be a nuclear war if US President Barack Obama ordered an attack on Iran.

Castro has turned his attention recently to the Middle East in a series of articles he has been publishing in state media since he stepped down as president. The special session broadcast on live television was held to debate Castro's warnings about the risks of a nuclear war.

Earlier this month, he published a new book about his youth and guerrilla life in the years dating back to the 1959 revolution.

The book, entitled "The Strategic Victory," tells readers how the 300 fighters led by Castro eventually prevailed over the government forces of dictator Fulgencio Batista in the Sierra Maestra mountains.

Castro led a guerrilla group beginning on December 2, 1956, to fight Batista's government and finally overthrew the dictator on January 1, 1959, opening a new chapter in Cuban history.

"I did not want to wait to respond to the numerous questions about my childhood, adolescence and youth, and how I became a revolutionary and armed combatant," the former Cuban leader said.

In an interview Sunday with visiting Venezuelan journalists, Castro commented on his current role.

"My role is to say what is happening so that others can decide what to do. You have to understand that the comrades (in government) are not people I can lead by the hand; what I want is for them to think things over," he said.

Actually, Castro may find it hard to leave the central stage of political life. He retains the status of an iconic revolutionary leader and enjoys immense prestige among compatriots.