HAVANA - Revolutionary legend Fidel Castro turned 85 on Saturday, still an important figure in his communist-ruled Cuba, but increasingly a fading presence in the life of the country he ran for 49 years.
He gave up his last leadership post this year when he stepped down as head of the ruling Communist Party and has retreated further and further from public view.
"His role has diminished significantly. He has stepped away more so than at any point in the last five years," said Jonathan Benjamin-Alvarado, a Cuba expert at the University of Nebraska in Omaha. "It may be a case of Raul Castro solidifying his governing style and Fidel willingly receding," he told Reuters.
Cuba was to celebrate the birthday on Saturday with a nationally televised "serenade" by a lineup of musicians. Organizers said this week they did not know if Fidel Castro would attend personally.