Many partied along Havana’s Malecon seafront into the early hours of today, celebrating retired Cuban leader Fidel Castro who has turned 90. On the strike of midnight, a live band played “Happy Birthday” in honor of the iconic leftist revolutionary on the “Anti-imperialist Tribune”, a plaza located outside the newly-opened U.S. embassy, while fireworks exploded on the other side of the bay.
Dancers and salsa bands stretched for kilometers down the Malecon, as Havana’s annual carnival was combined this year with Fidel’s birthday concert. “To 90 years past, and to 90 more!” While many Cubans criticize 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.
Fidel handed over the reins of power in 2008 to his younger brother Raul due to an intestinal ailment that nearly killed him, although he retained the title “Historic Leader”.