Castro appears at 90th birthday event
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. –