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Last Updated: Wednesday, 29 November 2006, 18:47 GMT
Castro absence fails to dampen media ardour
A picture of Cuban President Fidel Castro on display on a Havana window
Castro's image remains ubiquitous

The absence of Cuban President Fidel Castro from celebrations in Havana to mark his 80th birthday has failed to curb the enthusiasm of the country's media.

Nothing has so far been observed in the media to suggest Mr Castro's absence from a ceremony in Havana's Karl Marx theatre indicates a deterioration in his health.

The major radio station Rebelde read out his address excusing himself from the festivities on doctors' advice no less than four times in 90 minutes.

The radio also announced that a further two chapters of the book A Hundred Hours with Fidel were now available in tabloid format on newsstands nationwide.

The newspaper Eco Tunero published President Castro's address to the assembly in full, and also offered translations in English, Italian, French and Portuguese.

'Volcano of wisdom and love'

Thank you, Fidel, for existing. Thank you for making Cuba a free land. Thank you for realising your dreams of social justice. Thank you for continuing to be a guerrilla

The youth paper Juventud Rebelde described the Cuban leader as "a volcano of wisdom and love".

"Cuban artists joined voices in unity to welcome the participants in homage to our commander-in-chief for his 80th birthday."

The paper described the event as "a loving embrace" for a leader who was "an erupting volcano, but also one of wisdom and culture".

"Solidarity, revolution and technology" ran a headline in the paper El Habanero.

It said the "Past and Future Colloquium: Cuba and Fidel" was "designed to give a new dimension of the transcendence of the Cuban Revolution for the world".

There were reports that writers, artists, singers, intellectuals and public figures from more than 80 nations were attending the event.

The workers' paper Trabajadores quoted an organiser of the festivities as paying effusive homage to "this volcano named Fidel".

The organiser spoke of "what is projected to happen in this world of ferment revolving around Cuba and Fidel symbolising the true revolutionary concept".

Describing Mr Castro as "the man who has given the greatest impulse to international solidarity in contemporary history", he continued:

"Thank you, Fidel, for existing. Thank you for making Cuba a free land. Thank you for realising your dreams of social justice. Thank you for continuing to be a guerrilla."

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