HAVANA (AP) -- Cuba marked the 61st anniversary of the beginning of Fidel and Raul Castro's revolution on Saturday with a leading official calling on islanders to be united and to defend the nation's communist system.
President Raul Castro, wearing an olive-green military uniform as he sat in the front row with other top leaders, ceded speechmaking duties to Vice President Ramiro Valdes, a former commander in the rebellion.
"We must preserve this unity above all things," Valdes said. "We have no alternative but to keep fighting every day, until the last breath, for the country, with the revolution and with socialism."
The Castro brothers' failed attack on a military barracks in the eastern city of Santiago on July 26, 1953, is considered the onset of the revolution, which culminated in 1959 when strongman Fulgencio Batista fled the island.
The date is a national holiday celebrated each year with musical performances and patriotic speeches. On Saturday, the main ceremony took place in the provincial capital of Artemisa, west of Havana.
"There is no place in our hearts for discouragement, and the word defeat has been erased from our vocabulary," Valdes said.