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Cuba's Fidel Castro dies at 90


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Cuba's Fidel Castro dies at 90

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(This story is being updated as new reactions arrive)

Cuban revolutionary leader and ex-president Fidel Castro has died at the age of 90.

An icon for some, a controversial dictator for others, he survived what he said were countless US assassination attempts, but it was illness which forced him out of power in 2006 and ceded the presidency to his brother.

It was Raul Castro who announced his passing on TV saying:

“Dear people of Cuba, with deep sorrow I stand before you to announce to our people, to our friends in America and the world that today, November 25th 2016, at 10.29pm the commander in chief of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro Ruz, died. To respect the will of the companion Fidel his remains will be incinerated in the first hours of saturday 26th.”

An official quoted by AFP news agency said a procession with his ashes will cross Cuba over the course of four days.

His funeral has been announced for 4 December in Santiago de Cuba.

World leaders react

A stark contrast in the reactions from the US with President Obama releasing a statement in which he offered his condolences to the Castro family and said ‘history will record and judge’ the impact of Fidel. While president-elect Donald Trump gave his first reaction simply stating ‘Fidel Castro is dead!’.

However, Trump later released a longer statement saying,
“While Cuba remains a totalitarian island, it is my hope that today marks a move away from the horrors endured for too long.”

Mexican President Nieto tweeted his condolences for the Cuban leader and what he called ‘an emblematic reference for the 20th century, adding, that ‘Fidel Castro was a friend of Mexico.’

Venezuela’s president Nicolas Maduro said he had spoken with Raul to convey his solidarity with the people of Cuba.

Ecuador’s president Rafael Correa hailed Fidel as a ‘great man’ saying ‘Long live Cuba, Long Live Latin America.’

In a telegram to Raul Castro, Russian President Vladimir Putin called the late leader an “inspiring example for many countries”, adding that Fidel was a ‘frank and tried and true friend of Russia.’

Former Soviet leader Gorbachev hailed Fidel Castro for ‘strengthening’ Cuba.

Chinese President Xi Jinping said in a statement that: “the Chinese people have lost a close comrade and a sincere friend”.

Reacting to the news Britain’s Foreign Minister said it ‘marks the end of an era’. There is no reaction yet from the prime minister.

Spain’s prime minister Mariano Rajoy extended his condolences to the Cuban government and authorities for the passing of a figure of historical importance.

Reactions in Miami

His nearly five decades in power divided many Cuban families. For those who chose exile in the US, the news of his death turned a page on history.

Fidel Castro 1926-2016

  • Born August 13, 1926 to a wealthy farmer.
  • He adopted leftist anti-imperial politics while studying at the University of Havana.
  • In 1959, with his guerilla army he overthrew the regime of General Fulgencio Batista. He was prime minister until 1976.
  • From 1976-2008 he was the president of Cuba.
  • He countered the Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961.
  • The alliance with the USSR culminated in one of the defining events of the Cold War with the Cuban missile crisis in 1962, which brought the world to the brink of nuclear war.
  • Post millenium, he formed alliances with Latin America’s leftist governments.
  • Fidel transferrred his responsibilities in 2006, with brother Raul taking over the presidency, but he officially retired in 2008.
  • One of the last times he was seen in public was on August 13, 2016 at celebrations for his 90th birthday.
  • He died on November 25, 2016.

The thaw

Fidel outlasted 10 US administrations, but lived to see the warming of Cuban ties with Washington. However, it was a long road to the thawing of relations. At the height of hostilities, the two countries came to the brink of nuclear war during the Cuban missile crisis of 1962.

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Celebrations in Miami's Little Havana in the wake of Fidel Castro's death