Cuba’s Castro Spends 85th Birthday in Private

Posted August 13th, 2011 at 2:10 pm (UTC-5)
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Ailing former Cuban President Fidel Castro spent his 85th birthday in private Saturday, while artists, the media and youths continued several days of celebrations honoring the revolutionary icon.

One national newspaper, Granma, said in a headline that “Cuba and Latin America sing the praises of Fidel.” Since Tuesday, concerts, art exhibits and other events have been staged in honor of the man who led the communist island nation for nearly five decades before handing power to his younger brother Raul Castro five years ago.

On Friday night, there was a gala concert dubbed the “Serenade to Fidelity.”

Twenty-two musicians from across Latin America, including Grammy-winning Cuban singer Omara Portuondo, performed on the eve of Mr. Castro's birthday.

Cuban Vice President Jose Ramon Machado Ventura and other politicians were in attendance at the event, held at the 5,000-seat Karl Marx theater in Havana. However, the communist revolutionary himself was notably absent.

Mr. Castro has faced health problems in recent years. At his last public appearance in April, during a Communist Party Congress meeting, observers said he looked unsteady on his feet.

While suffering from an intestinal illness that he later said almost killed him, Mr. Castro temporarily ceded power to his brother in 2006 and then permanently in 2008.