Cas­tro ap­pears at 90th birth­day event

The Myanmar Times - - World -

CUBAN rev­o­lu­tion­ary leader Fidel Cas­tro made a rare pub­lic ap­pear­ance as he turned 90 on Aug 13 in an is­land trans­formed from the one he led for half a cen­tury.

Dressed in a white track jacket, Mr Cas­tro sat be­tween his brother and suc­ces­sor, Raul, and Venezue­lan Pres­i­dent Ni­co­las Maduro, at a gala or­gan­ised by a chil­dren’s the­atre com­pany.

The out­ing to Ha­vana’s Karl Marx The­atre, the is­land na­tion’s largest, marked his first pub­lic ap­pear­ance since April 19, when he was seen at the close of the Cuban Com­mu­nist Party Congress.

Both loved as a hero and hated as a dic­ta­tor, Mr Cas­tro is one of the gi­ant fig­ures of mod­ern his­tory.

He de­fied 10 United States pres­i­dents dur­ing his 48 years in power, but in the decade since he stepped aside Cuba has be­come a dif­fer­ent world. His sworn foe, the US, is no longer of­fi­cially Cuba’s en­emy.

Now white-bearded and frail, Mr Cas­tro was a strap­ping 32-year-old in green fa­tigues when he led a rebel force that drove out dic­ta­tor Ful­gen­cio Batista in 1959.

His im­age as a rev­o­lu­tion­ary war­rior storm­ing down from the moun­tains, ri­fle in hand, stirred his ad­mir­ers’ imag­i­na­tion. His com­mu­nist poli­cies and iron-fisted treat­ment of ri­vals drew the hos­til­ity of the US and other Western pow­ers.

Al­though his voice used to boom out over Cuba in speeches that lasted hours, the for­mer pres­i­dent now spends his days out of sight at home.

And al­though he is rarely heard from, his face still smiles out from count­less bill­boards across the Caribbean is­land.

Mr Cas­tro re­tired from pub­lic life in 2006 be­cause of ill health. He trans­ferred the pres­i­dency to his brother Raul in 2008. –

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