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Loved as a hero and reviled as a dictator, Castro is one of the most prominent political figures of modern history. His sworn foe, the United States, is no longer officially Cuba's enemy. His communist policies and heavy-handed treatment of his rivals drew the ire of the United States and western nations.

The cigar is part of the iconic image of the communist former president. "It is important to tirelessly talk about the necessity to preserve peace", Castro's article published on Granma reads.

Castro went on to lambast Barack Obama, over his speech in May when he visited Hiroshima - the site of the world's first atomic bombing at the end of World War Two. "The attack on Nagasaki, chosen randomly by the owners of life, was equally criminal".

Castro, who came to power in the Eisenhower era, has outlasted US -backed plots against him, as well as several American presidencies.

Many Cubans feel Fidel is no longer in step with the times.

For Cueto, a 72-year-old who learned cigar-rolling when he was 5 years old, it is a matter of national pride for Cuba to keep the record. Concerts have been played in his honor.

Castro left office 10 years ago due to illness and has largely been out of public view.

Under Raul Castro's presidency, diplomatic ties with United States have been restored.

"There isn't the slightest doubt that conservatives who don't want to advance look for backup in Fidel", Cuban political scientist and former diplomat Carlos Alzugaray said.

Fidel gave free healthcare, housing and schooling to citizens on a poor island.

"You enjoy deep respect in Russian Federation as an outstanding statesman who devoted his entire life to serving the people of Cuba", Putin wrote in a telegram posted on Kremlin's website.

Manuel Bravo, a 48-year-old Cuban glazier said that Fidel "is everything".

"I see him as animated".

"He is the man of 'E's: egomaniacal, egotistical, egocentric", she said. There's a newly created government email address to send him best wishes on his birthday.

"He suffered quite a bit", Mr Castro wrote. But official secrecy shrouds his condition.

Since then, he has ventured into public rarely, looking increasingly frail and sporting comfortable tracksuits and trainers instead of his trademark olive green military fatigues.

Mr. Castro, who took power in Cuba's 1959 revolution and ruled for almost half a century, was often seen puffing on his favoured, long and thin Lancero model until he quit in 1985.

The gala in Havana focused on key moments of Fidel's life, including the CIA-backed invasion attempt in the Bay of Pigs in 1961.