Havana - Declaring that together they had written “an unprecedented page of history”, Fidel Castro gathered with several thousand members of Cuba’s political elite to celebrate the 45th anniversary of the revolutionary triumph that brought him to power.
Wearing the olive-green dress uniform, Castro addressed the group for about 45 minutes on Saturday after a concert at the Karl Marx Theatre.
Government ministers, top Communist Party leaders and members of the mass organisations - such as the Union of Young Communists - were invited to the event.
Castro, standing on the theatre’s stage before a carved mahogany podium, told the formally dressed guests that the protagonists of the revolution sought social justice, not fame.
“Our objective never was the search for glory,” he said.
Nevertheless, they and their supporters went on to write “an unprecedented page of history”, he said.
Castro’s speech was broadcast on state-run television and radio.
As the event began, television viewers were shown black-and-white film clips of the early days of the revolution, when Castro was a triumphant 32-year-old rebel commander leading his men into the eastern city of Santiago on January 1, 1959.
Just hours before, then-President Fulgencio Batista fled the island for the Dominican Republic.
His leadership over this Caribbean nation remains unchallenged
Castro, 77, is the world’s longest-ruling head of government - the only socialist system in the Western Hemisphere. His leadership over this Caribbean nation of 11.2 million people remains unchallenged.
Castro has ruled during the administrations of 10 different American presidents, successfully defying their attempts to force him to change his socialist system.
While supporters consider Castro the spiritual heir of Cuban independence hero Jose Marti, his detractors criticise him for jailing opponents and stifling dissent.
Saturday’s event began with the island’s national anthem, followed by a modern dance rendition accompanied by Cuba’s National Orchestra.
Also performing were Cuba’s National Choir, a children’s choir, a Spanish dance troupe and vocalist Omara Portuondo of Buena Vista Social Club fame.