Fidel Castro Turns 86, Maintains Silence

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Today marks the 86th birthday of Fidel Castro, the Cuban revolutionary and decades-long leader of the Caribbean country. Castro has maintained silence and stayed out of view for two months now, prompting speculation about his health or possible death. A report by Reuters states that the last statement heard from Castro was his opinion column published in the Cuban state press on June 19.

Fidel Castro was the leader of the 26th of July Movement, which over threw the government of Cuban leader Fulgencio Batista on January 1, 1959. In the decades since, Castro has maintained control of the country through the Communist Party of Cuba and a single-party socialist system of government.

Castro has survived assassination attempts and coups throughout his years as Cuba's leader. According to a 2007 Reuters report, it was revealed that year that the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency worked with mobsters to attempt to assassinate Castro in the early 1960's. When asked about Castro, U.S. President George W. Bush said, "One day the good lord will take Fidel Castro away." Castro mocked Bush in response. From the Reuters report:

He fired back at Bush's latest remark with irony.

"Now I understand why I survived Bush's plans and the plans of other presidents who ordered my assassination: the good Lord protected me," Castro, a self-declared atheist, said in a statement sent to the foreign media late on Thursday.

Castro stepped down as leader of the Cuban revolution and has largely stayed out of the spotlight since his health began to deteriorate back in 2006. At that time, Castro underwent emergency surgery to correct intestinal bleeding and ceded power to his brother, Raul Castro on what was supposed to be a temporary basis. Since that time, Raul Castro has been in charge of the country. Speculation about Castro's health has been constant in the years since.

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