Fidel Castro, Cuba’s leader of revolution, dies at 90

Fidel Castro, Cuba’s leader of revolution, dies at 90

BBC.COM – His younger brother and successor as president Raul Castro announced the news on state television.

Castro toppled the government in 1959, introducing a Communist revolution. He defied the US for decades, surviving many assassination plots.

His supporters said he had given Cuba back to the people. Critics saw him as a dictator.

Ashen and grave, President Castro told the nation in an unexpected late night broadcast on state television that Fidel Castro had died and would be cremated later on Saturday.

“The commander in chief of the Cuban revolution died at 22:29 hours this evening (03:29 GMT Saturday),” he said. “Towards victory, always!” he added, using a revolutionary slogan.

A period of official mourning has been declared on the island until 4 December, when his ashes will be laid to rest in the south-eastern city of Santiago.

Barring the occasional newspaper column, Fidel Castro had essentially been retired from political life for several years.

In April, Fidel Castro gave a rare speech on the final day of the country’s Communist Party congress.

“I’ll soon be 90,” the former president said, adding that this was “something I’d never imagined”.

“Soon I’ll be like all the others, “to all our turn must come,” Fidel Castro said.

Castro was the longest serving non-royal leader of the 20th Century.

He temporarily handed over power to his brother in 2006 as he was recovering from an acute intestinal ailment. Raul Castro officially became president two years later.

News of his death left some in Havana stunned.

“I always said it couldn’t be,” said one woman, a government employee. “Even though they said it now, I say it can’t be.”

How he defied the US

Throughout the Cold War, Fidel Castro was a thorn in Washington’s side.

An accomplished tactician on the battlefield, he and his small army of guerrillas overthrew the military leader Fulgencio Batista in 1959 to widespread popular support.

Within two years of taking power, he declared the revolution to be Marxist-Leninist in nature and allied the island nation firmly to the Soviet Union.

Yet, despite the constant threat of a US invasion as well as the long-standing economic embargo on the island, Castro managed to maintain a communist revolution in a nation just 90 miles (145km) off the coast of Florida.

Despised by his critics as much as he was revered by his followers, he maintained his rule through 10 US presidents and survived scores of attempts on his life by the CIA.

He established a one-party state, with many political opponents executed or imprisoned. The independent media was suppressed. Thousands of Cubans fled into exile.

How has the world reacted?

Latin American leaders have been quick to pay tribute.

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto said Castro was a “great friend” of Mexico, while to El Salvador’s President Salvador Sanchez Ceren he was an “eternal companion”.

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro said “revolutionaries of the world must follow his legacy”.

The Soviet Union’s last leader Mikhail Gorbachev said: “Fidel stood up and strengthened his country during the harshest American blockade, when there was colossal pressure on him”.

Vladimir Putin described him as a “reliable and sincere friend” of Russia.

For French President Francois Hollande Castro embodied Cuba’s revolution in both its “hopes” and its later “disappointments”.

In Miami, where there is a large Cuban community, there have been celebrations in some parts of the city, with people banging pots and cheering.

A Cuban exile group, the Cuban Democratic Directorate, said Castro left “legacy of intolerance” and had set up a “vicious totalitarian regime”.

Fidel Castro’s key dates

  • 1926: Born in the south-eastern Oriente Province of Cuba
  • 1953: Imprisoned after leading an unsuccessful rising against Batista’s regime
  • 1955: Released from prison under an amnesty deal
  • 1956: With Che Guevara, begins a guerrilla war against the government
  • 1959: Defeats Batista, sworn in as prime minister of Cuba
  • 1961: Fights off CIA-sponsored Bay of Pigs invasion by Cuban exiles
  • 1962: Sparks Cuban missile crisis by agreeing that USSR can deploy nuclear missiles in Cuba
  • 1976: Elected president by Cuba’s National Assembly
  • 1992: Reaches an agreement with US over Cuban refugees
  • 2006: Hands over reins to brother Raul due to health issues, stands down as president two years later

Source: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-38114953

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9 Comments

  1. Anonymous
    November 26, 2016 at 9:16 am Reply

    RIP. Saved your country from a brutal dictator and even after all the American propaganda, over 100 assassinations by the CIA and the Americas’ embargo (the reason Cuba is so poor), you were still able to stop capitalism and hold the country up, transforming its healthcare system to one of the best in the world.

    1. Yaicara
      November 26, 2016 at 10:55 am Reply

      Yes RIP I AM NOT HAPPY BECAUSE AFTER ALL IS A HUMAN BEING, BUT SO MANY PEOPLE SUFFERED F9RNMANY YEARS INCLUDING ME AS I WAS BORN AND RAISED THERE. HIS DEATH DOES NOT MEANS THAT HIS MISSION IS OVER I AM KEEPING MY FINGERS CROSSED TO SEE THE BETTER CUBA RISE UP! HE DID GREAT THINGS BUT HE KEPT CUBAN PEOPLE SUFFERING FOR YEARS AS HIS FAMILY LIVE 8N LUXURY. AND WHY? WHY CUBANS HAVE TO PAY THAT PRICE? AM NOT PROUD OF ALL OF THIS NOW IS RAIL CASTRO TIME AND HE IS FREE TO GIVE CUBANS WHAT HE HAD PLAN BEFORE AND CASTRO STOPPED HIM. VIVA CUBA LIBRE! .Yaicara

  2. Anonymous
    November 26, 2016 at 9:53 am Reply

    Such a great leader so saddened by this … stood up to the great America and the country survived under all embargos etc. Disappointed that I did not get to meet him. Salute you Sir.

    1. Yaicara
      November 26, 2016 at 11:02 am Reply

      He stood against USA and he did from the Cuban people what he wanted keeping them in misery while his children have been the owners of many amazing assets. He did a great job at the begging taking people out of ilitrecy. But whatever he did with hsi hands he destroyed with his feet. I lived there i grow up there and went there many times and i know how the system works. Am a st Lucian and soon I will be an USA citizen! Thank God! But still many people are suffering in Cuba. Now he can RIP if he can. Many families that lost their relatives at sea trying to go to a better life those people I am thexcited ones that I am really sorry.

  3. Anonymous
    November 26, 2016 at 10:27 am Reply

    Talking about the good side of castro
    And ignoring the bad side of him
    Hiprocrits. The wages of sin is death.
    His name will live on.

  4. Anonymous
    November 26, 2016 at 10:38 am Reply

    It’s no difference between the Rasta guys who worship Hail Selassie a man they never seen in their life. And ignoring the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I can guarantee Hail Selassie is not the Christ.

  5. Anonymous
    November 26, 2016 at 10:41 am Reply

    Sorry to lose a great man

  6. Anonymous
    November 26, 2016 at 2:04 pm Reply

    To Castro’s credit his country is the most educated in the Caribbean and Latin America, none has achieved what the Cubans did even under communism. There is universal health care, no Caribbean or LAtin America has that. Cuba is also the safest country in terms of crime in the hemisphere, so yes he achieved great things. And yes it came at cost for a few. Now the Americans will benefit from having the most educated people in the region at their disposal. As for security am not that hopeful anymore because the crime influence will get bigger with the infiltration without a strong man in charge.

  7. Anonymous
    November 27, 2016 at 7:27 pm Reply

    FOR what it Worth to to the Cuban people there goes a great man, maybe to some you feel miss out of the world consuming greed of the martial world such as what the USA had to offer some of you, but there’s some thing call pride respect, not to be used and abused, too standing up for your Rights, for the one’s who abound the ship, thinking the ship would have sank, take a good look and see where they have landed, wishing him on his journey. greatness can be since by your works, we need more like him, love to the man

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