On 90th birthday, Fidel Castro thanks Cuba, critiques Obama

by Abel Hampton August 15, 2016, 0:16
On 90th birthday, Fidel Castro thanks Cuba, critiques Obama

In his last opinion piece, in March, the historic leader accused Obama of sweet-talking the Cuban people during his visit to the island - the first by a USA leader in 88 years - and of ignoring the accomplishments of communist rule.

The Russian leader sent his "warmest wishes" to the former Cuban president, hailing Castro's enormous contributions to "the development of friendship and cooperation" between Havana and Moscow.

In Saturday's letter, Castro also criticized Obama for not apologizing to the Japanese during his trip to Hiroshima in May, saying his speech there was "lacking stature".

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.

At 90m long, it took Cuban cigar roller, Jose Castelar, 10 days to make and he hopes to gain his sixth Guinness record from the feat.

At his last public appearance in April, Castro, who dressed in a blue tracksuit and spoke in a trembling voice, seemed to say goodbye.

Cuba's leader Fidel Castro
Javier Galeano Putin Congratulates Fidel Castro on 90th Birthday On August 13 ex Cuban leader celebrates his 90th birthday

While many Cubans criticise Castro for having restricted personal freedoms and imposed a Soviet-style command economy, others revere him for having freed Cuba from U.S. domination and provided universal access to healthcare and education.

Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro, who arrived in Havana on Friday night, is scheduled to participate in celebrations, according to Prensa Latina.

Castro touched on his father's death shortly before his own victory in overthrowing US-backed strongman Fulgencio Batista in 1959.

Mr Obama had apparently angered the former leader when he urged Cubans to look toward the future during a landmark trip to the country in March, which heralded a watershed moment in relations between the two nations. Fidel Castro, however, criticized Obama then too, saying that Cuba didn't need "the empire to give us anything".

The need for closer economic ties with the U.S. has grown more urgent as Venezuela, Castro's greatest ally, tumbles into economic free-fall, cutting the flow of subsidised oil that Cuba has depended on from the South American country for more than a decade. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of Cubans are emigrating to the United States, hollowing out the ranks of highly educated professionals.

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