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Fidel Castro turns 87, out of view but still iconic

August 13, 2013|By Tracy Wilkinson
  • A poster of Cuba's Fidel Castro hangs on the wall of a Havana food market next to plate that reads in Spanish, "I'm looking at you."
A poster of Cuba's Fidel Castro hangs on the wall of a Havana food market… (Franklin Reyes / Associated…)

MEXICO CITY -- Fidel Castro reminded the world of his longevity and his mortality Tuesday when he marked his 87th birthday.

Castro remains an iconic Latin American revolutionary figure, but his reduced role in Cuba's activities is carried out behind the scenes. He stepped down as president in 2008 following a near-fatal illness and was replaced by brother Raul, who has said his current term ending in 2018 will be his last.

No public festivities with Fidel Castro in attendance were planned to celebrate the birthday, as has been the case in recent years.

Oddly, the official communist newspaper Granma published prominently on its website a tribute from Hugo Chavez -- the Venezuelan president who died five months ago (link in Spanish). The tribute was a compilation of Chavez quotes, the paper said.

Castro has made only a couple of public appearances this year and he was last seen pictured with Chavez’s successor, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, in late July, the Associated Press reported from Havana.

The Cuban website Cubadebate posted a long compendium of commentaries from admirers and world leaders over the years, which read like a who’s-who of leftist history, going all the way back to Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh in 1965 (link in Spanish).

That historical reach, combined with the increasingly evident frailty of Castro, have underscored for many Cubans that time is running out for the only leader most Cubans have known.

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