Fidel Castro turns 86 behind closed doors

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HAVANA (AP) — Cuba is marking Fidel Castro's 86th birthday with congratulatory messages in state media but no apparent plans for a public appearance by the retired leader.

Communist Party newspaper Granma has published memories of Castro from people such as Cuban journalists, cohorts from the 1959 revolution and a military general.

Ballet celebrity Alicia Alonso says among the collected memories that being in Castro's presence has always made her "nervous."

It has been nearly two months since Castro published one of his semi-regular columns titled "Reflections," and longer since he last appeared in public.

He stepped down temporarily in 2006 due to an undisclosed illness he later said nearly killed him. In 2008 he left the presidency permanently, and younger brother Raul Castro took over.

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