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Karat, Bardhan to attend birthday party

July 27, 2006 15:07 IST
When Cuban President Fidel Castro celebrates his 80th birthday on August 13, in attendance will be Nobel Laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez, football legend Diego Maradona, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

Plus Communist Party of India-Marxist General Secretary Prakash Karat and A B Bardhan, general secretary, Communist Party of India.

Bardhan and Karat leave for Havana on August 11 for Castro's birthday party.

"It is not Castro who has organised the birthday celebrations. It is Foundacion Guayasamin, an organisation of Latin Americans, which has planned the four-day celebrations," said Pallab Sen Gupta, head of CPI's international department.

The CPI-M and the CPI have a long association with Castro. The parties would regularly send food to Cuba, which was bled white by American economic sanctions and blockades.

'Dear Friends of the entire world, those interested in paying homage to Commander Fidel...' is how the invitation posted on the web site of Foundacion Guayasamin began.

The celebrations start with a Cuban gala show at the Karl Marx Theatre, followed by two gatherings at the Palace of Convention, a concert at the Anti-Imperialist Tribune and an exhibition at the National Building of the Beautiful.

The guests share a common bond -- admiration for Castro and hostility towards the US establishment.

Maradona, who interviewed Castro for a television chat show last October, has gone on record to say, 'For me, he (Castro) is god.'

The Argentine became friends with the Cuban in 2004 when the football magician was admitted to a rehabilitation clinic in Cuba for his cocaine addiction.

He returned from the clinic an ardent admirer of Castro and a fierce critic of globalisation

In the morphed image: Maradona, Marquez, Bardhan, Karat, Castro

Maradona's political credentials became public when he stood by Chavez's side as the Venuzuelan president delivered an anti-globalisation speech during the free trade summit in Argentina last year.

Chavez is in every sense Castro's political heir, carrying the torch of his crusade in Venezuela through dogged defiance of the US. Perhaps nowhere was their camaraderie as evident as on a four-hour radio show six years ago, at the end of which they sang a duet a popular ballad in Venezuela.

Reports said the rendition was not in tune, but listeners were not complaining.

R Prema