Cuba’s former president Fidel Castro, one of the world’s longest-serving Dictators, has died aged 90.
Fidel Castro, the Cuban revolutionary leader who built a communist state on the doorstep of the United States and for five decades defied U.S. efforts to topple him, died on Friday. He was 90.
Wearing a green military uniform, a somber Raul Castro, 85, appeared on state television on Friday night to announce his brother’s death.
With a shaking voice, President Raul Castro said on state television that his older brother died at 10:29 p.m. Friday. He ended the announcement by shouting the revolutionary slogan: “Toward victory, always!”
In declining health for several years, Mr. Castro had orchestrated what he hoped would be the continuation of his Communist revolution, stepping aside in 2006 when he was felled by a serious illness. He provisionally ceded much of his power to his younger brother Raúl, now 85, and two years later formally resigned as president. Raúl Castro, who had fought alongside Fidel Castro from the earliest days of the insurrection and remained minister of defense and his brother’s closest confidant, has ruled Cuba since then, although he has told the Cuban people he intends to resign in 2018.
He led Cuba for five decades and was the world’s third longest-serving head of state, after Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II and the King of Thailand.
He took power in a 1959 revolution and ruled Cuba for 49 years with a mix of charisma and iron will, creating a one-party state and becoming a central figure in the Cold War.
He was demonised by the United States and its allies but admired by many leftists around the world, especially socialist revolutionaries in Latin America and Africa.
Fidel Castro Former Cuban Dictator
He did not meet Barack Obama when he visited Havana earlier this year, the first time a U.S. president had stepped foot on Cuban soil since 1928.
Days later, Castro wrote a scathing newspaper column condemning Obama’s “honey-coated” words and reminding Cubans of the many U.S. efforts to overthrow and weaken the Communist government.
Castro claimed he had survived 634 attempts or plots to assassinate him — mainly masterminded by the Central Intelligence Agency and US-based exile organisations.
Despite the plots, a US-backed exile invasion at the Bay of Pigs and five decades of economic sanctions, Mr Castro outlasted nine US presidents — from Dwight Eisenhower to Bill Clinton, stepping down while George W Bush was in office.
His alliance with Moscow helped trigger the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 — a 13-day showdown with the US that brought the world the closest it has been to nuclear war.
The news of Castro’s death spread slowly among Friday night revelers on the streets of Havana. One famous club that was still open when word came in quickly closed.
Some residents reacted with sadness to the news.
“I’m very upset. Whatever you want to say, he is a public figure that the whole world respected and loved,” said Havana student Sariel Valdespino.