Fidel Castro makes a surprise appearance at a cultural gala to celebrate his 90th birthday. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION). STORY: Fidel Castro made a surprise appearance Saturday (August 13) to mark his 90th birthday as he received a standing ovation at a cultural gala. He was joined by his brother Raul Castro, the as well as Venezulean President Nicolas Maduro. Fidel Castro has already thanked Cubans for their tributes to mark his 90th birthday on Saturday in a meandering column carried by state-run media in which the iconic leftist revolutionary also lambasted old foe United States. Cuba went into overdrive this month honoring the retired "El Comandante" who spearheaded its 1959 revolution and built a Communist-run state on the doorstep of the United States, surviving what it says were hundreds of assassination attempts along the way. Castro, who handed power to his younger brother Raul in 2008 due to poor health, went on to reminisce about his youth as a child on the family plantation in the eastern village of Biran, in particular about his father who died before the revolution. "He suffered quite a bit," Castro wrote. "Of his three male children, the second and third were absent and distant, both fulfilling their duty in revolutionary activities." Even back then, Fidel wrote, he knew Raul should replace him if anything should happen to him, in particular if the United States succeeded in its attempts to kill him. "I almost laughed about the Machiavellian plans of the U.S. presidents," he wrote. True to form, Castro went on to lambast Barack Obama, this time for the U.S. president's speech in May when he visited Hiroshima, site of the world's first atomic bombing at the end of World War Two. "He lacked the words to ask for forgiveness for the killings of hundreds of thousands of people," Castro wrote. In his last opinion piece, in March, the "Historic Leader" accused Obama of sweet-talking the Cuban people during his visit to the island - the first by a U.S. leader in 88 years - and of ignoring the accomplishments of Communist rule. Many Cubans feel Fidel is no longer in step with the times. Raul's most broadly feted accomplishment since taking power has been implementing a detente with the United States after a half century of frozen confrontation. Considered more pragmatic, the younger Castro also introduced market-style reforms to invigorate the state-dominated economy and increased personal freedoms, such as the right to travel abroad. Fidel has lent these policies only lukewarm support in public. Still, that didn't stop tributes to Fidel flooding in on the occasion of his birthday, ranging from the conventional, such as photo exhibits about his life, to the outlandish, with one cigar maker rolling the longest smoke in the world, measuring 90 meters (295 feet), in Fidel's honor. Indeed, regardless of the present, many Cubans continue to revere Fidel for having freed Cuba from U.S. domination and introduced universal, free healthcare and education.