Cuban revolution ’stronger than ever’ at 50: Raul Castro (Lead)

January 2nd, 2009 - 2:57 pm ICT by IANS  

Santiago de Cuba, Jan 2 (DPA) At a subdued celebration far away from the capital Havana, President Raul Castro declared that the Cuban revolution after 50 years was “stronger than ever” despite the “unhealthy and vindictive hatred” of the “powerful US”. Despite the current difficult times, the revolutionary movement had moved barely a millimetre from its principles, the younger brother of the ailing revolutionary leader Fidel Castro said Thursday at the formal celebration of the anniversary.

Fidel, the fiery rebel leader who governed the communist Caribbean island for nearly half a century, did not appear, typical of his absence from all public events for more than two years.

“Today the revolution is stronger than ever, it has never failed to stand by its principles, not even in the most difficult circumstances,” said Raul Castro, wearing his uniform of a four star general, shortly after he had declared that socialism “has not been a failure”.

“This truth cannot be changed in the least even if some get tired or even renounce their history as they forget that life is in itself an eternal fight,” he proclaimed.

The 77-year-old president spoke in Santiago de Cuba, the southern town where Fidel Castro declared victory over the Fulgencio Batista regime on Jan 1, 1959 and spoke from the balcony at city hall.

Castro spoke before 3,000 invited guests - a small and remote gathering compared to past massive anniversary celebrations of the revolution which have taken place in Havana.

The only high ranking foreign guest was Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro.

Castro said the revolutionary victory was “twice as worthy” for it has been obtained despite the US.

“One way or another with more or less aggressiveness, every US administration has trier to impose a regime change in Cuba,” he said, warning: “Today we are not alone on this side of the ocean facing the empire, as was the case in the 1960s.”

He also warned against the “enemy’s siren songs” and the dangers that the revolution could even “destroy itself due to corruption”.

Tomorrow’s leaders must “never forget that this is a revolution from the humbled by the humbled and for the humbled,” he said.

Fidel Castro, 82, has not appeared before the Cuban public since his sudden illness in July 2006, when he turned over leadership to Raul. In February 2008, Raul was formally chosen president. Videotapes of Castro meeting with foreign leaders however have been released by the government.

Details of his illness have not been revealed. The party newspaper “Granma” published only a small message of greeting from Fidel, which read: “Shortly before the 50th anniversary of triumph I send good wishes to our heroic people. Fidel Castro Ruiz.”

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