Cubans celebrate Fidel Castro’s 90th birthday

Cuba

A picture of Cuban Revolution leader Fidel Castro is placed on the shelves of a state rationing store or “bodega,” ahead of his upcoming 90th birthday in Havana, Cuba. (AP Photo/Desmond Boylan)

Cuba’s former leader Fidel Castro will celebrate his 90th birthday on Saturday. The revolutionary icon, who became a major player on the world stage during the Cold War, retired 10 years ago due to ill health.

CCTV America’s Michael Voss reports from Havana.

Cubans celebrate Fidel Castro\'s 90th birthday

Cubans celebrate Fidel Castro\'s 90th birthday

Cuba’s former leader Fidel Castro will celebrate his 90th birthday on Saturday. The revolutionary icon, who became a major player on the world stage during the Cold War, retired 10 years ago due to ill health. CCTV America’s Michael Voss reports from Havana.
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As Cubans flock to the annual summer arts and crafts fair in Havana, they first pass through an entrance hall lined with photographs of former leader Fidel Castro, one of many tributes to mark his 90th birthday.

Some stop to pose for pictures beside portraits of the man who ruled this island for almost half a century. His official title today is “historic leader of the revolution.”

“He’s like my grandfather, everyone loves him,” said one young girl. “He is important in this country and the in whole world.”

Castro may rarely seen in public, but politically he is still aware of the world around him and, when he doesn’t approve of something, he says so.

It was the historic visit of U.S. President Barack Obama that prompted Fidel’s most recent intervention, writing that it was enough to give Cubans a heart attack on hearing what he called Obama’s sugar-coated words.

Castro then made a rare appearance at the Communist Party Congress in April, speaking of his mortality but confident that his politics would outlive him.

“Everyone’s turn must come but the ideas of the Cuban communists will remain,” he said.

Fidel and Raul Castro

Former Cuban president Fidel Castro (L) listening to his brother Raul, Cuban President and new First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party (CCPCC), during the final session of the 6th Cuban Communist Party Congress, on April 19, 2011. ( AFP PHOTO / ADALBERTO ROQUE )

Some now suggest that in old age Fidel Castro has become a rallying point for those who want to maintain communist orthodoxy and limit the pace of change.

“Cuba must be careful. We welcome the reestablishment of relations, but we have to tread cautiously,” said 72-year old Miriam Olivera, a Fidel supporter. “They have always tried to use ideology against us. I’d prefer they didn’t come to open businesses here.”

In his speech to Congress, Cuban President Raul Castro, Fidel’s brother, said half-jokingly there are two political parties in Cuba: those who follow Fidel Castro and those who support himself.


PHOTOS: Fidel Castro at 90


Lecturer Arturo Lopez-Levy on impact of Fidel Castro in Cuba

For more about the pulse of Cuba’s politics, CCTV America’s Asieh Namdar interviewed Arturo Lopez-Levy, a lecturer of Cuban Studies at New York University’s Center for Global Affairs. He’s also the co-author of “Raul Castro and the New Cuba: A Close Up View of Change.”