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Cuban revolutionary and longtime leader Fidel Castro turns 85

August 13, 2011 - CUBA

When Cuban revolutionary and longtime leader Fidel Castro turns 85 on Aug 13, it will be the patriarch's first birthday without an official title. His brother, Raul Castro, has sat in the hot seat since 2006. His official departure marked a major transition in the island's history, but there is no sign it has silenced the venerable Fidel. Renowned for 6-hour speeches, he has developed an affection for tweeting.

; The birthday invites retrospectives about his legacy, while the advanced age of the brothers - Raul turned 80 in June -- and Fidel's poor health raises the specter of a Cuba without Castros. The birthday can be counted on for speculation about who their successors will be and whether, post-Castro, Cuba will be hurried back to its Communist underpinnings or nudged farther into the free market. As president, Raul has started adoptting reforms to modernize Cuba's Soviet-style economy. Born Fidel Castro Ruz on 13 Aug 1926 near Birán, Cuba, he became political leader of Cuba in 1959. In transforming his country into the first communist state in the Western Hemisphere, Castro became a symbol of communist revolution in Latin America. He held the title of premier until 1976 and then began a long tenure as president of the Council of State and the Council of Ministers, handing over provisional power in Jul 2006 and formally relinquished the presidency in Feb 2008. In Mar 2011, a Twitter account that tweets excerpts from former President Fidel Castro's frequent musings on world affairs passed 100,000 followers. His some 1750 tweets, as of March, share views that include his opinion that the world is headed for nuclear Armageddon, and his warnings that NATO is planning to invade Libya.

Watch out Chávez, Fidel Castro now has 100,000 Twitter followers (CSM 8 Mar 2011)

Fidel Castro biography (Encyclopedia Britannica)

Fidel Castro set to resign as leader (Reuters/Global Times 2 Mar 2011)

Date written/update: 2011-08-13