Venezuelan, Nicaraguan Leaders Wish Castro Happy 88th
By PTI | Published: 13th August 2014 09:47 PM |
HAVANA: Leftist leaders Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela and Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua sent warm birthday greetings to Fidel Castro today as the father of the Cuban Revolution turned 88.
Maduro called Castro a "giant of history" as he marked the former Cuban president's birthday on Venezuelan television. The political heir of late socialist leader Hugo Chavez, Maduro has maintained the tight alliance his mentor forged with Cuba, which depends heavily on oil-rich Venezuela's largesse.
"What luck, what a blessing, to arrive with you at 88," said Ortega, a longtime ally of Cuba who returned to the helm in Nicaragua in 2007 after leading the country from 1979 to 1990 following the Sandinista revolution. "Thank you great Cuba for giving us the great one, Fidel," he added in a message sent to Castro, according to Cuban state news agency Prensa Latina.
Cuba is celebrating Castro's birthday with concerts and a multimedia exhibit, but no official event for the aging revolutionary leader, who handed power to his younger brother Raul eight years ago amid failing health.
Thousands of people gathered in a Havana plaza yesterday night for a concert by popular music group "Buena Fe" that stretched on past midnight to fete Castro's birthday, according to Cuban media. And in the Plaza de la Revolucion in the Cuban capital, multi-media artist Roberto Chile, who worked as Castro's personal photographer from 1959 until 2006, unveiled an exposition dedicated to the leader, called "Fidel is Fidel."
Castro toppled Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista in 1959 to launch the only communist regime in the Americas. His brother Raul has taken steps to open the island's economy since succeeding him, but the country is still bears the enormous imprint of Fidel's nearly five decades of single party rule.