Latin American singers honor Fidel at 85 | Entertainment

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HAVANA, Cuba (AP):

Nearly two dozen singers and musicians from nine Latin American countries paid tribute to Fidel Castro with a happy birthday concert Friday on the eve of the former leader’s 85th birthday.

Dubbed the “Loyalty Serenade,” the show was intended as a “tribute to the life of a man, a people, a nation and a revolution,” according to the Communist Party newspaper. Granny noted.

Dignitaries from other countries were expected and the event planner promised that there would be surprise visitors, but it was unclear whether Castro himself would attend.

He has been out of power since 2006, when he suffered from a near-fatal bowel disease and temporarily handed over the presidency to his brother Raúl. Elder Castro relinquished the presidency for good in 2008.

Castro is rarely seen in public these days, and he seemed unsteady when he made a performance at a Communist Party convention in April, marching to his seat with the help of an assistant. At that same rally, the party appointed a governing board without him for the first time in five decades, leaving Fidel Castro without an official post.

A brake on reforms

Yet even in retirement, Castro casts a long shadow. Raúl said he consulted with his older brother, and some Cuban observers say his presence has put the brakes on reforms that Raúl says will save the island’s economy by relaxing some state controls.

“I think the question is how long (Fidel) is going to linger and how long is he going to meddle with the government,” said Ann Louise Bardach, longtime Cuba observer and author of Without Fidel: a death announced in Miami, Havana and Washington.

“As long as he’s alive and mental composition, he’s not going to change the way he thinks, ”Bardach said. “He’s not going to have a revelation on economic policy. He is going to do what he has always done, which is to preserve the revolution at all costs. “

Castro has been a prolific writer of newspaper and book columns in recent years, including autobiographical accounts of the events that led him to seize power in a 1959 revolution.

Castro has only published one opinion column since late May, although it is neither unusual nor unprecedented for his pen to remain silent for long periods of time.

Omara Portuondo, the Grammy-winning singer of fame from the Buena Vista Social Club, was the big draw of the show at Havana’s 5,000-seat Karl Marx Theater.

The program also included artists of regional renown such as Cecilia Todd from Venezuela, Daniel Viglietti from Uruguay, Pancho, Villa from Chile and Liliana Herrero from Argentina.

But the real star of the evening was undoubtedly Fidel, whose distrust of the United States continues to inspire left-wing activists around the world.

“It’s a feeling of love. Serenade is a genre born out of love,” Viglietti said at a press conference earlier this week.

“The political map has changed in Latin America”, he added, “and Fidel is not innocent of this responsibility”.


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