Cuba to mark 50 years of revolution

Published January 1, 2009

HAVANA, Dec 31: Against a backdrop of economic gloom and the frail health of former leader Fidel Castro, Cuba will mark on Thursday the 50th anniversary of the revolution that turned the island into a communist state and Cold War hot spot at the doorstep of the United States.

President Raul Castro will speak in the eastern city of Santiago de Cuba from the same balcony where his older brother, Fidel Castro, proclaimed victory after dictator Fulgencio Batista fled the country in the early morning hours of Jan 1, 1959.

The elder Castro, 82, in semi-seclusion since July 2006 after surgery for an undisclosed intestinal ailment, will not attend, officials said.

Due to his absence and the economic difficulties plaguing Cuba, what had been expected to be a major celebration of the revolution’s longevity will be a no-frills event in a tree-shaded square with room for about only 3,000 people, the officials said. Concerts are planned throughout the country.—Reuters

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