Castro appears for Revolution Day in Cuba

ITN News

by ITN News

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Former Cuban president Fidel Castro made a brief appearance at a wreath laying ceremony in Havana as Cuba celebrated its Revolution Day.

Socialist speakers spent Cuba's Revolution Day criticising the United States for everything from its drug consumption to the war in Iraq to its military support for Colombia, portraying Washington as the great villain in world affairs.

It was the first ceremony in memory in which neither Castro spoke, leaving some in the crowd and on Cuba's streets disappointed and perplexed. No reason was given.

Fidel kept up a string of impromptu stop-ins by laying a wreath at a memorial to Cuban independence hero Jose Marti at Havana's Plaza de la Revolucion and later met with Cuban artists and intellectuals.

The former Cuban leader has mostly shunned the spotlight since undergoing emergency intestinal surgery in July 2006. The illness forced him to step down - first temporarily, and later permanently - and cede power to his younger brother Raul.

The Castros often use July 26 Revolution Day - the most important date on Cuba's calendar - to set the agenda for the coming year and announce major changes.

Revolution Day commemorates July 26, 1953, when the Castros led an attack on the Moncada army barracks in the eastern city of Santiago and a smaller military outpost in the nearby Bayamo.