Cuban President Raul Castromarked the 55th anniversary of the revolution that brought communist rule to the country on January 1st.
"The image of Cuba, it was famous in America before that revolution as a paradise for gambling, prostitution, a refuge for gangsters and a favorite destination for their dirty investments facilitated by the general administrative corruption of the tyranny. But is has transformed through the revolutionary process into a symbol of dignity, independence, humanism, intransigent in defense of its principals," said Raul Castro, the current leader of Cuba.
55 years ago, in January 1959 dictator Fulgencio Batista ruling Cuba fled the island to avoid being directly overthrown by a group of revolutionaries led by Fidel Castro. One week later Castro's forces entered Havana and a new government was formed.
Since then, despite multiple attempts by the U.S. government to get rid of Fidel the Castro family has maintained an iron grip on Cuba and imposed communist rule on the island.
Fidel Castro ruled the country for 49 years. When he stepped down as President in 2008 because of health problems his brother Raul replaced him.
The 55 years of rule have not been rosy though. Despite the party atmosphere, not everyone in Cuba is celebrating.
As the Human Rights Watch noted last year that no other country in Latin America is ruled by a government that "represses virtually all forms of political dissent."
Early last year, however, Raul Castro announced that he will step down from power after his second term ends in 2018.