Jan. 1 - Cuban Leader Raul Castro marks the 55th anniversary of the revolution that brought communist rule to the country. Sarah Toms reports.
With a song and a dance, Cuba marks the 55 year anniversary of communist rule in the Caribbean island. On January first in 1959 the dictator Fulgencio Batista fled the island to avoid being directly overthrown by a a group of revolutionaries led by Fidel Castro. Castro declared victory here in the eastern city of Santiago de Cuba. One week later Castro's forces entered Havana and a new government was formed. Eighty-seven year old Castro, stepped down as President in 2008 because of health problems. But his brother Raul replaced him. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) CUBAN PRESIDENT RAUL CASTRO, SAYING: "The image of Cuba, it was famous in America before that revolution as a paradise for gambling, prostitution, a refuge for gangsters and a favourite destination for their dirty investments facilitated by the general administrative corruption of the tyranny. But is has transformed through the revolutionary process into a symbol of dignity, independence, humanism, intransigent in defence of its principals." Despite the party atmosphere, not everyone in Cuba is celebrating. Human Rights Watch noted in April, that no other country in Latin America is ruled by a government that "represses virtually all forms of political dissent."