Fidel Castro dies at 90

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Fidel Castro, Cuba’s former president and leader of the Communist revolution, died on Friday, his brother announced at the Cuban state television. He was 90.

The commander in chief of the Cuban revolution died at 22:29 hours this evening (03:29 GMT Saturday),” President Raul Castro said.

Fidel Castro will be cremated later on Saturday. There would now be several days of national mourning on the island.

However in Miami, where there is a large Cuban community, there have been celebrations in some parts of the city.

Fidel Castro ruled Cuba as a one-party state for almost 50 years before Raul took over in 2008. His supporters said he had given Cuba back to the people. But he was also accused of suppressing opposition.

Fidel Castro had essentially been retired from political life for some time; however, in April, Fidel Castro gave a rare speech on the final day of the country’s Communist Party congress. “I’ll soon be 90 (…) Soon I’ll be like all the others, to all our turn must come,” Fidel Castro said.

Castro – who had survived many assassination plots – 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.

Throughout the Cold War, Fidel Castro was a thorn in Washington’s side. He and his small army of guerrillas overthrew the military leader Fulgencio Batista in 1959 to widespread popular support and declared the revolution to be Marxist-Leninist in nature, while allying the island nation firmly to the ex-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 outlasted 10 US presidents and defied scores of attempts on his life by the CIA.

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