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    Cuba marks 58th anniversary of communist revolution

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    Al Jazeera English

    by Al Jazeera English

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    Cuba has marked the 58th anniversary of the country's communist revolution, in which Fidel Castro led a more than five-year armed revolt against US-backed Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista.

    The ceremony got under way just after sunrise at a central plaza in the central city of Ciego de Avila, but Castro, just days away from his 85th birthday and fully retired from politics, was not present.

    On July 26, 1953, Castro, his brother Raul and some 130 rebels were captured during an their failed attack on the Moncada barracks. The Castros were imprisoned and later released. They went into exile in Mexico, but returned to Cuba several years later to overthrow Batista in 1959.

    The holiday is often used to make major announcements, but instead, Cubans heard from his second-in-command, who offered few new details while touching on standard themes such as organisation, discipline and economic reform.

    Jose Ramon Machado Ventura, the eighty-year-old vice president, said the country would move forward with economic reforms, but asked for patience.

    "We must make a definitive break with the mentality of inertia, it drives us to sit down and wait looking up," Machado Ventura said, imploring the crowd and his countrymen to work harder and more efficiently.

    He repeated that the country was not abandoning socialism even as it embraced limited free market reforms.

    Raul Castro has allowed more islanders to run small independent businesses and hire employees, and pledged to groom new leaders to take over from the aging revolutionary generation.

    Craig Mauro reports from Havana, Cuba's capital, on growing calls to give more power to the country's youth.