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"I like everything about this government, because it helps everyone. Theres nobody like Fidel," was the wholehearted affirmation of Vidal Castillo Ramírez, a Cuban man who has just turned 105 years old and still walks without a cane.

This venerable gentleman, who is six feet tall and lives near the city of Bayamo in eastern Cuba, had a birthday celebration that was warm, beautiful and instructive.

It was in the town of El Dátil " which from 1865 to 1868 was the residence of Dominican Máximo Gómez, who fought for Cubas independence for three decades " that the party took place. Castillo Ramirez, a slim African-Cuban man, remembered times past as his family and neighbors prepared the pork fricassee, rice and beans, yucca, salad, rum, music, refreshments, cake and other goods, according to an AIN article.

He was born in the city of Palma Soriano on May 6, 1902, and both his father and grandfather were anti-colonialist fighters. He worked as a pharmacy clerk, a laboratory assistant at a sugar mill, a carpenter, a ranch hand, a sugarcane cutter, a mule driver and a coffee picker.

He worked in a sugarcane complex that belonged to the Castro Ruz family, and picked coffee in Las Arenas, a remote point in the municipality of Guisa in Granma province " in fact, he went into hiding there after the Fulgencio Batista dictatorship tried to kill him after labeling him a communist.

He specifies that it was not true, although he did sympathize with the communists and later aided the Rebel Army.

When he learnt of the arrival of Fidel and his men in the Sierra Maestra Mountains, he promised that if they were victorious, he would light a candle to the Virgin of La Caridad in the El Cobre Church, and he would hold a big celebration at home.

Vidal can be found on any day in the park, or in the streets of El Dátil. He doesnt sleep much, and walks quite a lot, although very slowly, and sees and hears with difficulty.

He has a lot of stories to tell, and is satisfied with his long life. He was only sorry that his only son, who is 73, did not attend his birthday party because he was ill.

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