The legendary leader of the Cuban revolution, Fidel Castro, has died, the Cuban president and his brother has announced. He was 90.
“The commander in chief of the Cuban revolution died at 22:29 hours this evening,” President Raul Castro announced on national television on Saturday.
President Castro said that the revolutionary leader’s body will be cremated early on Saturday, “in compliance with his expressed will.”
Castro famously led a guerrilla campaign that gained popular support and ousted US-backed Cuban dictator General Fulgencio Batista on January 1, 1959. He was then named prime minister.
Leading a Communist Cuba
, Castro broke off diplomatic ties with the Capitalist United States in 1961 and expropriated US companies’ assets totaling more than one billion dollars.
The US began imposing crippling sanctions on Cuba, which the country survived even as poverty rose. Hostilities continued — although lately in words only — between the Cold War adversaries until July 2015, when the two countries resumed diplomatic ties and reopened embassies.
Castro ruled Cuba for five decades, until 2006, when he temporarily ceded power to his brother Raul because he had to undergo surgery. The transfer of power became official in 2008.
During his revolutionary life, the United States’ spy agency, the CIA, attempted to assassinate him numerous times.
Castro himself said he survived 634 attempts or plots to assassinate him, mainly masterminded by the CIA or US-based exile organizations. Such attempts may have included poison pills, a toxic cigar, exploding mollusks, and a chemically tainted diving suit, among other things.
Castro was born on August 13, 1926 to a Spanish immigrant father and a Cuban mother.