Fidel Castro’s 80th birthday has brought out some of the crawlers and I suspect we will see much more of this sort of thing in the coming months:

Italy’s parliament speaker has come under fire from political foes and allies alike for sending a laudatory birthday card to ailing Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

“Long live the Dear Comandante,” Fausto Bertinotti, a veteran communist, wrote in the letter sent to Castro for his 80th birthday on Sunday.

….”None of the disagreements we have loyally expressed can take away the hope and the emotions that the men and the women of the Sierra Maestra sparked in our generation,” Bertinotti said, referring to the mountains from where Castro launched his guerrilla war in December 1956.

“Later Cuba…incarnated, together with you, the pride of a people and an island that wants to live its independence and decide autonomously about its future in a world of peace. Good luck to you and your people,” said Bertinotti, often called “cashmere communist” because of his taste for expensive clothes.

Not quite in the Gabriel Garcia Marquez league though:

HIS devotion to the word. His power of seduction. He goes to seek out problems where they are. The impetus of inspiration is very much part of his style. Books reflect the breadth of his tastes very well. He stopped smoking to have the moral authority to combat tobacco addiction. He likes to prepare food recipes with a kind of scientific fervor. He keeps himself in excellent physical condition with various hours of gymnastics daily and frequent swimming. Invincible patience. Ironclad discipline. The force of his imagination stretches him to the unforeseen……………..etc etc etc

Freely elected leaders never seem to get those sort of birthday messages do they? In fact the only birthday message that springs to mind is this one below, which I guess has a vague Cuban connection:

Update: Here’s Zinedine Zidane’s birthday greeting to the Cuban dictator: