Cuban President Raul Castro praised his country's achievements and longevity during a speech marking the 50th anniversary of the victory of the revolutionary government.
President Castro spoke in the eastern city of Santiago, where his brother Fidel declared victory over ousted dictator Fulgencio Batista 50 years ago. The two brothers were in charge of rebel forces that took control of the island in a series of battles, prompting Batista to flee the island on January 1.
In his speech, Raul Castro praised the dedication and commitment of the revolutionary forces and the Communist government that formed later. He repeated parts of a speech his brother gave at the beginning of the Cuban Revolution.
He said the tyrant has been defeated and we are very joyful, but there is still much to accomplish.
Since taking power from his brother more than two years ago, Raul Castro has called for a series of reforms to improve government efficiency and revive the economy. Last week, officials said a series of hurricanes hurt business this year, but they hoped for economic improvements in 2009.
Fidel Castro did not attend Thursday's anniversary celebration. The 82-year-old leader has not been seen in public since undergoing intestinal surgery in July 2006.
Raul Castro praised his brother during the speech, saying one man cannot create history alone, but that Fidel has had a great influence during his lifetime. He recalled the ability of Fidel and other Cuban leaders to persist in spite of intense pressure from the United States.
He said every U.S. administration has tried to change Cuba's government to varying degrees of aggressiveness, but the nation has always been able to resist.
The Cuban leader also cited a list of disputes and crises between the United States and Cuba, including a failed U.S.-backed assault in 1961, and the discovery of Soviet missiles inside Cuba one year later. He said the Cuban Revolution is stronger now than ever before and will not cede any of its principals.