By Ria Novosti
Fidel Castro, the charismatic leader of the Cuban Revolution, celebrates his 85th birthday on Saturday.
Several dozen singers and musicians from nine Latin American countries on Friday night dedicated a three-hour concert, dubbed Serenata a la Fidelidad (Serenade to Fidelity), to the man who ruled a tiny Communist nation in the Caribbean for almost five decades.
Neither Fidel nor his younger brother and incumbent president Raul Castro attended the concert at Havana’s 5,000-seat Karl Marx Theater, according to local media.
Fidel Castro has been seen rarely in public since he underwent intestinal surgery in 2006 and ceded power to Raul, who officially became president in February 2008.
Since coming to power, Raul Castro has announced a number of drastic economic reforms aimed at pulling the country from a deep economic crisis.
Starting this year Cuba plans to expand the private sector and reduce the role of the state in the economy by cutting government-paid jobs by 500,000 and allowing more people to work for themselves.
However, the Cuban president, who still consults with his older brother, has repeatedly stated that his country would never abandon its socialist ideals or allow changes that could lead to restoration of capitalism on the island.