Cuba’s Fidel Castro dies aged 90
Raul Castro, Fidel’s brother and current president of Cuba, announced his death on state television early on Saturday.
The leader of the 1959 revolution, which overthrew the US-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista, defied the US efforts to topple him for five decades, before ill health led him to make way for his brother Raul, 84, in 2006.
In his final years, Fidel lived in relative seclusion but occasionally wrote opinion pieces or appeared meeting with visiting dignitaries.
‘Enormous emotional impact’
Al Jazeera’s Latin America Editor Lucia Newman, reporting from Santiago, Chile, said Castro’s death hardly came as a surprise.
“He has been a larger-than-life figure who inspired a revolutionary movement all over the world, especially in Latin America,” Newman said.
“As time has gone by we have been hearing less and less from Fidel Castro. We all know he has been ill for a decade and was not been seen since August after his birthday, which was celebrated across the country. …
Havana residents reacted with sadness to the news.
“I am very upset. Whatever you want to say, he is public figure who was respected and loved,” Sariel Valdespino, a student, said. …
The US government spent more than $1bn trying to kill, undermine or otherwise force Castro from power, but he endured unscathed before old age and disease finally took him.
His supporters in Havana described him as a tireless defender of the poor.
Castro was “a giant of the Third World”, said Agustin Diaz Cartaya, 85, who joined Castro in the 1953 attack in eastern Cuba that launched the revolution. “No one has done more for the Third World than Fidel Castro.” …
No doubt, Castro leaves a legacy that will be hotly debated for years to come.
For five decades, he worked to turn the island nation into a place of equality and social justice. His government produced tens of thousands of doctors and teachers and some of the lowest infant mortality and illiteracy rates in the Western hemisphere. …
The US had tried for years to topple the Cuban government. Cuba stumbled along even after the collapse of its chief sponsor, the former Soviet Union.
The CIA plotted to assassinate Castro using everything from exploding seashells to lethal fungus. American officials cut off almost all trade to Cuba. They financed dissidents and pro-democracy activists. But nothing worked during 11 successive administrations, from Dwight Eisenhower to Barack Obama.
On December 17, 2014, Obama announced that the US planned to renew diplomatic ties with Cuba and loosen some trade and travel restrictions.
Obama’s critics were enraged.