MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro marked his 88th birthday on Wednesday.
An exhibit commemorating the history of his long leadership went on display in Havana on Tuesday. Hundreds of people attended the exhibit titled “Fidel is Fidel.”
Roberto Chile, a photographer who spent more than 10 years documenting Fidel’s presidency, said Fidel’s legacy will endure in spite of his many enemies.
“I don’t think there is even one of Fidel’s adversaries who has the praise and the support of so many people around the world. He has enemies of course, but many more friends,” Chile told reporters at the exhibit.
Castro, who took power in a 1959 revolution, led Cuba for 48 years before falling gravely ill in July 2006. He stepped down from power on July 31, 2008 and delegated his presidential duties to Raul in what state media described as a temporary measure. However, Raul officially took power two years later and has led Cuba ever since.
Fidel nearly died in 2006 after having to go through multiple abdominal surgeries and reportedly having part of his colon removed.
In the United States, no region has been impacted more by Castro’s rule than South Florida, where hundreds of thousands of Cubans have settled since he took power.
The U.S. has maintained a tight embargo against the Cuban government which, along with harsh and often failing communist policies, has helped cripple the island nation’s economy. Still, Castro ruled with an iron fist and drew worldwide scorn for human rights violations.
Human Rights Watch said in 2013 that Cuba is ruled by a regime that “represses virtually all forms of political dissent.”
Some thawing of the icy relationship with the United States has been attempted in the past decade.