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Fidel Castro marks 83rd birthday with crisis essay

world Updated: Aug 14, 2009 02:39 IST

Former President Fidel Castro marked his 83rd birthday on Thursday out of the public eye but with an essay on the global economic crisis, climate change and immigration that headlined Cuban newspapers.

Castro ceded power to his brother Raul when he fell ill three years ago and has not been seen in public since. He stepped down as president in February 2008 and has published scores of essays, titled "Reflections," in state newspapers, including three this month.

Thursday's essay criticized a recent summit of heads of state from Canada, Mexico and the United States for failing to resolve questions surrounding Mexican immigration to the United States and Canada's decision to impose new visa requirements on Mexicans wanting to visit.

Cuba's Communist Party newspaper, Granma, published congratulatory letters to Castro from three convicted Cuban spies serving time in US prisons. "We will never stop being the proud heirs of your work," the headline read.

Cuba's government organized no official events, but Communist youth groups sang "Happy Birthday" at rallies across the island.

on Wednesday, Cuba unveiled what it says is a recent photograph of Castro, showing him looking healthier than in other pictures since he underwent emergency surgery. The photograph is the centerpiece of a Havana exhibit dedicated to the former leader.