Today, in a surprise move, Fidel Castro announced his resignation as head of Cuba's Communist Party. The announcement came in the form of a column titled "Reflections of Fidel" on the website CubaDebate.cu. Word spread quickly in the U.S. blogosphere. "END OF AN ERA" read Business Insider. "Fidel Castro steps down" read the Christian Science Monitor. But the hype was confusing because, in that same letter, Fidel said his brother Raul (who took over as president in 2008) still runs decisions by him. So is Fidel still in charge or not?
We're no experts on the Caribbean island country so we asked somebody who is: Philip Peters, vice president of the Lexington Institute and specialist in Latin American affairs. Here's what he said.
"The situation was a bit confusing because, in 2006, when he got sick, he temporarily delegated a number of functions when he was ill and his brother became president," said Peters. "It was never clear that he had left the leadership of the Communist Party. But now he has."
So officially, Castro's legal status as leader of Cuba is definitively over. But what about his behind-the-scenes leadership of the country?
"He has a historical role so I think he's always going to count," said Peters. "I don't think there's any doubt that the big issues are discussed with him."