Facing failing health in 2006, Fidel Castro transferred his presidential title and duties to his brother Raúl, but it was thought he still held onto his power as chief of the Cuban Communist Party. In a newspaper column published today, though, Castro revealed he resigned that post five years ago. Of course, you shouldn't expect much in the way of openness or transparency in Cuba. The announcement brings new speculation to how much power Fidel really has behind the scenes, and how free his brother Raúl is to pursue his own policies.
"I resigned without hesitation from my state and political positions, including first secretary of the party," Castro writes of his 2006 illness. "I never tried to exercise those roles again."
While the government and Communist Party are intertwined, the government is usually tasked with the day-to-day running of the country. The party wields power by promoting Communist politics and setting much of the major policy within the country.
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Even after his retirement from the government, Castro was still referred to as party leader.
The announcement comes a few weeks before the Cuban congress meets to pick a new party leader. That will likely be Raúl Castro. However, it should be interesting to see who the 79-year-old Raúl chooses to assume duties in the number two position within the party.
Many assumed, including the Cuban people, that Castro still wielded much power through his post as party chief, and that his brother acted merely as a puppet. But, Fidel's announcement indicates that, at least officially, Raúl is in complete control of the country. Though, there's no telling how much power Fidel really wields, even without an official title.