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Saturday, 1 January, 2000, 06:24 GMT
Cuba ignores the party

The queue for the pork shop was the closest Havana got to a party


By Tom Gibb in Havana

In Cuba there have been no millennium celebrations because the government is determined that the real millennium is in a year's time.

Into 2000
Fidel Castro is never one to step into line with the rest of the world. Earlier this month, the Cuban government published a communique in the official communist newspaper, Granma.

In Cuba, it read, the second millennium and the 20th century are considered to end on 31 December of the year 2000.

The article cited experts, saying that this was the accepted historical version. So no official celebrations took place.

A few hours before midnight, many of the streets of Havana were deserted.


Fidel Castro: Millennium is next year
Havana's sea-front, normally crowded with people on a Friday night, was empty except for a few groups of tourists.

The day was a holiday; as with every new year, most Cubans were celebrating with their families at home.

There were long lines outside the stores where alcohol and food can be bought with US dollars to stock up for the evening meal.

On the state-controlled television, there was almost no mention of the millennium; the top story of the evening news was not about the celebration of 2000 years, but about the 41st anniversary of Fidel Castro's revolution, which also falls on 1 January.

Fidel Castro's brother, defence minister Raul Castro, congratulated troops on what he said was the start of the last year of the era.

The rest of the news reported advances of the Cuban economy during 1999, and violence and disorder in other parts of the world.

A short story at the end showed fireworks in the capitals of Europe; but no other mention of the millennium was made.

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See also:
01 Jan 99 |  Americas
Castro: The great survivor
31 Dec 99 |  World
In pictures: Global party round-up
01 Jan 00 |  World
New York new year

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