Cuba celebrates 50 years of revolution

Jan. 1, 2009 at 10:46 AM

HAVANA, Jan. 1 (UPI) -- Cubans Thursday commemorated the 50th anniversary of the revolution that brought former leader Fidel Castro to power.

Festivities marking half a century of Communist rule in Cuba will include a series of free concerts throughout the Caribbean island, the BBC reported.

Celebrations, however, will be much more subdued than originally planned as Cuba is still suffering the ill effects of three major storms earlier this year that caused an estimated $10 billion in damage.

Cuban leader Raul Castro -- Fidel's younger brother -- is scheduled to address Cubans from the southeastern city of Santiago de Cuba, where Fidel first claimed victory of the U.S. -backed Cuban dictatorship in 1959.

U.S. officials spoke out against the Cuban leadership ahead of Thursday's anniversary.

"The Castro brothers have not treated their people particularly well," White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said Wednesday.

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