- Cuba’s Fidel Castro who served for almost 50 years as president, died yesterday at age 90
- While detractors described Castro as a dictator, his supporters insisted he gave Cuba back to the people.
- Castro was the longest serving non-royal leader of the 20th Century
One of the world’s most iconic leaders, Cuba’s Fidel Castro who served for almost 50 years as president, died yesterday at age 90.
The d***h of the legendary Latin American revolutionary leader was announced by his brother-successor, Raul, on state television.
Castro’s daring exploits started when he fought and toppled the military regime of Fulgencio Batista in 1959 and introduced communism in Cuba. He survived many assassination plots, including a commando attack hatched by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to oust him from power.
While detractors described Castro as a dictator, his supporters insisted he gave Cuba back to the people.
In the late night TV broadcast, President Castro told Cubans the late leader will be cremated on Saturday.
“The commander in chief of the Cuban revolution died at 22:29 hours this evening (03:29 GMT Saturday),” he said as per BBC report. “Towards victory, always!” he added, using a revolutionary slogan.
The nation will be in deep mourning until 4 December, when Castro’s ashes will be laid to rest in the south-eastern city of Santiago.
Although “essentially retired from political life,” after passing the leadership mantle in 2006 to his brother, Raul, Fidel Castro wrote columns occasionally for a newspaper.
In April, Fidel Castro gave a rare speech on the final day of the country’s Communist Party congress.
“I’ll soon be 90,” he said, adding that this was “something I’d never imagined”.
“Soon I’ll be like all the others, “to all our turn must come.”
Castro was the longest serving non-royal leader of the 20th Century.
Some Havana residents were stunned by the news of his d***h.
“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.”
Throughout the Cold War, Fidel Castro was a thorn-in-the-neck of US leaders at the White House.
Two years after ousting Batista from power, Castro waged a Marxist-Leninist revolution and allied the island-nation to the Soviet Union.
Despite constant threats of US invasion and a long period of economic embargo, Castro was able to hold on to power and maintain a communist revolution.
The Cuban strongman maintained his rule and survived punitive incursions by 10 US presidents and scores of assassination attempts by the CIA.
Castro established a one-party state where many of his political opponents were either executed or imprisoned. The independent media was suppressed. Thousands of Cubans fled into exile.
On his d***h, Castro elicited tributes from Latin American leaders and allies of Cuba.
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, the Cuban Democratic Directorate, a Cuban exile group, said Castro left a “legacy of intolerance” and had set up a “vicious totalitarian regime”.