Fidel Castro turns 86 [Xinhua]

HAVANA, Aug.13 (Xinhua) — Cuba celebrated its former leader Fidel Castro’s 86th birthday on Monday, with an exhibition and a book fair.

The birthday of Castro, who quitted public life after handing over power to younger brother Raul in 2006, was marked with an exhibition of his portraits, an art and book fair in the central province of Villa Clara, local media said.

The books on show included Castro’s several memoirs published over the last three years, and others written about him, such as "Fidel Castro and History" and "Fidel, Women and Children".

The portrait exhibition featured 13 oil paintings based on photographs of key moments in his life, from childhood to moments when meeting important world leaders.

Also Monday, newspapers and magazines across the Caribbean island published articles on Castro and congratulatory messages from countries around the world.

For decades, Cuba has traditionally celebrated Castro’s birthday with avariety of public events, including concerts.  In 2011, the Ecuadorian Guayasamin Foundation brought together singers from nine Latin American countries to "serenade" the ex-leader at Havana’s Karl Marx Theater.

But retired Castro has kept a very low profile recently.  His last public contact with Cubans was via an editorial piece published on June 19 in the country’s official media.  He has written some 400 opinion pieces, titled "Reflections", on a wide range of issues.

Parliament Speaker Ricardo Alarcon said in March despite his retirement, the government still seeks Castro’s advice on issues of the "highest order" and of "strategic importance".

Castro, born on Aug. 13, 1926, came to power in January 1959, after spearheading the overthrow of Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista.

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