Ever since taking power in 1959, Fidel Castro has marked his birthdays with mass celebrations in Cuba. In 2011, for instance, a week of festivities culminated in a "Serenade to Fidelity" gala that included performances by artists from Europe and Latin America, including the Grammy Award-winning Omara Portuondo of Buena Vista Social Club fame. That same year, Castro celebrated the occasion with his erstwhile ally Hugo Chávez, who happened to be in Cuba for cancer treatment.
"Here with Fidel, celebrating his 85th birthday," Chávez tweeted. "Viva Fidel!"
Castro did not make a public appearance on his birthday last year, but the country was content to celebrate without him. State media congratulated him, concerts were dedicated to him, and the Union of Communist Youth baked him a cake. Not even an art show depicting important moments in his life could bring him out into the public eye. But it was Castro's party and he could hide if he wanted to.
Above, Cuban children gather around a cake dedicated to Fidel Castro's 86th birthday on Aug. 13, 2012 in Havana.
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