HAVANA – Cuba celebrates on Tuesday its National Rebellion Day, one of the most important events on the country’s revolutionary calendar, with massive festivities in the central Cuban city of Sancti Spiritus honoring the ex-president and “historic leader of the revolution,” Fidel Castro, as his 90th birthday approaches.
Cuban President Raul Castro, wearing his military uniform, presided over the ceremony, which recalls the failed attack on the Moncada Barracks 63 years ago, and at which he was accompanied by top government and Communist Party (PCC) leaders, including the party’s No. 2 official, Jose Ramon Machado Ventura.
Machado Ventura, who gave the main speech of the occasion, began by sending “on this day of such special significance” the “warmest greetings to comrade Fidel Castro, historic leader of the revolution, as he nears his 90th birthday,” to which the public responded with cries of “Viva Fidel!”
The PCC’s second secretary also assured Cuba’s revolutionary leader of the Cuban people’s “commitment to remain faithful to the ideas you fought for all your life,” and said they “will always keep alive the spirit of resistance, dialectical thinking and faith in victory that you instilled in us with your example.”
He also recalled the speech Fidel gave in the same Serafin Sanchez Plaza in Sancti Spiritus during the celebration on July 26, 1986, when the revolutionary leader – who will turn 90 next Aug.13 – called on Cubans to consider work the basis of prosperity.
Tuesday’s political and cultural event included music and dance performances and was attended by combatants of the rebel army and participants in the failed attack of July 26, together with members of international brigades expressing their solidarity with Cuba.
Cuba’s National Rebellion Day celebrates the first armed action led by Fidel Castro, on July 26, 1953, against the Fulgencio Batista regime, when he attacked the Moncada Barracks in Santiago de Cuba.
Though the attack failed and the rebels were either killed or captured, the date is officially regarded as the beginning of the revolution that brought Fidel Castro to power on Jan. 1, 1959, and is celebrated with massive political events, at which the nation’s president is usually the principal speaker.
But since he took office in 2006 to substitute his brother Fidel, who stepped down because of illness, Raul Castro, 85, has delegated that responsibility to others on several occasions over the past few years.