Skip to comments.Cuba celebrates Castro's 81st birthday
Posted on 08/13/2007 8:42:39 PM PDT by NormsRevenge
HAVANA - Fireworks exploded over Havana Bay and five Cuban agents imprisoned in the United States sent greetings as ailing leader Fidel Castro turned 81 on Monday, spending his second consecutive birthday convalescing at an unknown location.
There was no message from Castro, who has not appeared in public since announcing more than a year ago that he had undergone intestinal surgery and was provisionally ceding power to his younger brother Raul. The true state of his health and any future role for him in government remain uncertain.
Hundreds of children from the Communist Pioneers youth group gathered Monday in Havana's Lenin Park to enjoy a massive sheet cake with light blue frosting, pink roses and the message "Felicidades, Comandante," or "Congratulations, Commander."
"Congratulations Fidel on your day!" the children sang, clapping their hands as they kept time to the Cuban birthday song.
"What do I wish?" 7-year-old Dayron Gutierrez asked an Associated Press Television News crew, his mouth covered with frosting. "That he doesn't die. I love him."
Hundreds gathered along the Malecon seawall in Havana to watch fireworks pop over the water in a tribute to Castro.
Shouts of "Long live Fidel!" and "We shall overcome!" poured into the darkness from the open windows of one apartment in Old Havana.
Aside from the midnight pyrotechnics and parties for children in Castro's honor, there were no organized celebrations for Castro, who ruled Cuba for five decades.
The longtime U.S. foe is not universally beloved here and is reviled by many Cuban exiles in Miami who accuse him of widespread human rights abuses.
The celebrations Monday were not much different from past years, when Castro sometimes joined a group of children during low-key tributes that typically centered around the cutting of a cake.
More birthday greetings were sent by five Cuban agents serving long terms in U.S. prison on espionage charges and published in the Communist Party newspaper Granma.
"On this 81st birthday, we desire for you health and vitality, that you have many more, and that we can celebrate all those future anniversaries together in our beautiful fatherland," wrote Ramon Labanino, one of the so-called "Cuban Five" who were living in Miami a decade ago when they were arrested on espionage charges. Labanino is serving time at a penitentiary in Beaumont, Texas.
The men deny they were seeking U.S. secrets and say they were gathering information about violent groups in an effort to prevent terrorist attacks against the island.
Castro has issued several essays a week since late March, weighing in on subjects including biofuels and the war in Iraq. But there was no birthday message from the ailing leader.
Senior Cuban officials months ago stopped insisting that Castro would return to power, and his condition and exact ailment remain state secrets.
Many believe Raul is more likely than Fidel to undertake modest economic reforms in the island's communist-run system, but no major changes are expected while the elder Castro is still alive.
Children cheer after singing 'Happy Birthday' to Cuba's leader Fidel Castro while standing around a birthday cake at the Pioneer's Palace in Havana August 13, 2007. (Claudia Daut/Reuters)
Cuban Veronica Cruz gets ready to wash clothes at the patio of her house, decorated with a picture of President Fidel Castro, in Havana. A brief fireworks display marked subdued public celebrations Monday for Castro's 81st birthday as the ailing president stayed out of public view.(AFP/Adalberto Roque)
Can I send a birthday greeting in the form of .308 W?
That’s quite a washing machine Veronica has.
Good old Fidel-——I remember when he came down from the mountains as if it was yesterday. Who knew he would last this long?
I would rather celebrate his death.
It figures that a Georgia fan would be celebrating Castro’s birthday...
lol....bellow the belt, but funny.
Bienvenido al infierno, Fidel.
81st and last, I trust!
I'm not dead yet!!
My theory is that he’s been dead for quite while, is already stuffed and on wheels, with a motor up his behind, ready for his next public appearance.
I’m with you.
I just want to know if the SOB is pushing up weeds yet.