Cuba celebrates revolution's 50th anniversary

Fifty years after triumphant armed rebels descended from the eastern mountains, communist Cuba celebrated the revolution's anniversary Thursday with toned-down festivities following a trio of devastating hurricanes and under the enduring public absence of an ailing Fidel Castro. The austere celebrations, including dances and concerts across the island, belied the start of a year infused with possibilities for increased cash and visitors, and other changes that might ease Cubans' daily hardships. Many here hope for improved relations with the United States when President-elect Barack Obama takes office Jan. 20 following declarations he would talk directly with Raul Castro and lift severe restrictions on family travel and remittances to the island. "I hope he gets rid of the blockade," 42-year-old Ana Luisa Mas said as she bought a pork leg for her family's New Year's Eve celebration, referring to decades-old US trade sanctions.