Fidel Castro marked his 85th birthday outside of the public spotlight today, with little fanfare around the aging revolutionary icon who is rarely seen in public these days but still casts a long shadow over Cuban society. There were no announced celebrations of Castro's birthday, though the previous night two dozen musical acts from across Latin America held a concert in his honor.
Neither Castro nor younger brother Raul made it to his birthday bash, yet even in retirement, Castro has continued to be a player. Raul Castro has said he consults with his older brother, and some Cuba-watchers say his presence has acted as a brake on reforms that Raul is betting will save the island's economy by loosening some state control. "I think the issue is how long (Fidel) is going to linger on and how long he's going to meddle in the government," says a Cuba expert.