Cuba is marking Fidel Castro's 88th birthday with tributes in official media, a concert and a photo exhibit in the capital and a newly inaugurated restoration of the home where he was born.

Castro is loathed by many exiles in Florida who say he ruled with an iron fist and stamped out civil liberties. He was celebrated on the island Wednesday as a fighter for equality and social justice who defied the U.S. for five decades.

An article in Communist Party newspaper Granma said "paying homage to Fidel is a great party."

Castro rarely appears in public these days, and in recent years has not taken part in official celebrations of his birthday.

He retired for good in 2008 following a near-fatal illness, ceding power to his younger brother Raul.