Cuba’s ‘Commander’ Fidel Castro turns 87
HAVANA - Reuters
People are seen through a poster with a picture of Castro (R) and Che Guevara. REUTERS photoFidel Castro turned 87 Aug.13, largely out of sight but not out of mind, as Cuba struggles to move on from his half-century rule and as many of his policies are reconsidered under the leadership of his younger brother Raul.
The birthday of one of Latin America’s most iconic revolutionary figures has been a low key celebration in recent years. A choral concert in his honor at the Jose Marti national monument in Havana on Aug. 12 evening was the only official event planned. Castro goes about his daily activities out of the public eye, and how much influence the retired commandante still wields is unknown. He emerges every once in a while to reassure his followers that he is very much around, frustrating those who wish he was not. “No one believes anymore that Fidel has any real influence over day-to-day policy,” a western diplomat said, “but that doesn’t mean he is never consulted on big questions or that when he comes out it isn’t important.”
The government has staged just three media events this year for Castro: first, to vote in January for National Assembly deputies and chat with local reporters; then, in February, to attend the new parliament’s opening session where his brother’s possible successor, 53-year-old Miguel Diaz-Canel, was named first vice president, and more recently, to inaugurate a school near his home on the outskirts of Havana.