CUBAN revolutionary leader Fidel Castro called for nuclear disarmament and world peace on his 90th birthday on Saturday.
Dignitaries, including Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, gathered in Havana for celebratory cultural galas in Mr Castro’s honour.
“The human species today faces the greatest risk in its history,” Mr Castro warned in an open letter to the Cuban people published by Communist Party of Cuba newspaper Granma.
“Great powers like China and Russia cannot be subjected to threats of the use of nuclear weapons. They are peoples of great courage and intelligence.”
Mr Castro said US President Barack Obama had shown a “lack of stature” in his speech at Hiroshima in May, when he stopped short of apologising for the WWII atomic bombings of that city and Nagasaki.
“He lacked words to apologise for the massacre of hundreds of thousands of people in Hiroshima, despite the effects of the bomb being already known,” the leader said.
“For this reason it is necessary to hammer home the necessity of preserving peace, and that no power has the right to kill millions of human beings.”
Mr Castro also expressed his “profound gratitude” for the birthday greetings, gifts and messages of respect he received from the Cuban people “which give me strength to reciprocate with ideas that I will send to party militants and relevant organisations.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin repaid the compliment to his “dear friend” in a birthday message.
“You enjoy deep respect in Russia as an outstanding statesman who devoted his entire life to serving the people of Cuba,” he said.
South Africa’s liberation movement, whose victory owed much to Cuba’s military intervention against the apartheid regime’s invasion of Angola, also sang Mr Castro’s praises.
The African National Congress recalled Nelson Mandela’s declaration on Mr Castro’s 1998 visit that South Africa would not enjoy freedom were it not for “Cuba’s selfless support for the struggle to free all of South Africa’s people and the countries of our region from the inhumane and destructive system of apartheid.”
The South African Communist Party said: “Let us, all the democratic people and revolutionaries of the world, draw our inspiration from the revolutionary spirit of Castro.”