The government-controlled Cuban media on Monday devoted significant coverage to former President Fidel Castro on his 86th birthday.

Granma, the official daily of the ruling Communist Party, dedicated its entire back page to an article entitled "Asi es Fidel" (That's how Fidel is) in which it gathers opinions - all of them laudatory - from assorted Cubans about the ex-president but never mentions that Monday is his birthday.

One of those commentaries was from the grande dame of Cuban ballet, Alicia Alonso, who said that each time she has met Castro she has become nervous.

State news agencies AIN and Prensa Latina on Monday also collected various congratulatory wishes received by the leader of the Cuban Revolution, among them those of Bolivian President Evo Morales and Nicaraguan leader Daniel Ortega.

Also, the president of Ukraine, Victor Yanukovich, congratulated the Cuban leader, with whom he had met in Havana in October 2011 during the course of his official visit to the island.

On Twitter, several pro-government Cuban bloggers congratulated the former president, and - also on Twitter - dissident blogger Yoani Sanchez asked if Castro had transformed himself into a virtual figure "who doesn't appear but tells us he's still alive!!"

To commemorate Castro's birthday, authorities on Monday in Havana inaugurated the "Con todos los sentidos" (With all the senses) exposition comprised of 13 images by outstanding Cuban photographers that have been artistically modified by several local painters.

In other cities around the country, the date will be commemorated with book presentations and popular fairs.

After almost half a century in power, a serious intestinal illness forced Castro to delegate power in 2006 to his younger brother Raul, who formally took over as president in 2008. EFE