Ailing Cuban leader Fidel Castro told hundreds of admirers who traveled here for his 80th birthday party that he was not well enough to meet with them on Tuesday.
In a written message read at the launch of his five-day birthday bash, Castro said his doctors told him he was not in condition to attend the kickoff Tuesday night at Havana’s Karl Marx Theater.
“I direct myself to you, intellectuals and prestigious personalities of the world, with a dilemma,” said the note read at the gathering and broadcast live on state television.
“I could not meet with you in a small locale, only in the Karl Marx Theater where all the visitors would fit and I was not yet in condition, according to the doctors, to face such a colossal encounter,” it added.
The crowd responded by giving Castro a standing ovation.
“My very close friends who have done me the honor of visiting our country, I sign off with the great pain of not having been able to personally give thanks and hugs to each and every one of you,” Castro wrote.