Former Cuban President Fidel Castro, in a letter published Saturday to mark his 90th birthday, thanked his people, and criticized President Obama for not apologizing to the Japanese people during the American leader’s visit to Hiroshima.
Castro, who led Cuba from 1959 when his Communist rebels toppled the regime of then-dictator Fulgencio Batista, until 2008 when he stepped down due to ill health, reminisced about his childhood in Biran, in eastern Cuba, and described the region’s vegetation and geology.
“I wish to express my deepest gratitude for the signs of respect, greetings, and gifts I have received in these days, that give me strength to reciprocate through ideas that I will send to party militants and relevant organizations,” he wrote.
Castro, who came to power in the Eisenhower era, has outlasted U.S.-backed plots against him, as well as several American presidencies. Under him, Cuba adopted a socialist economic model that suffered when its benefactor, the Soviet Union, collapsed in the early 1990s. Castro’s Cuba saw dramatic improvements in health and other human-development indicators, but dissent was crushed, and his regime was severely criticized for its poor human-rights record.