His death marks the end of an era.

Cubas revolutionary leader Fidel Castro dies at 90Antonio Milena/Wikimedia Commons
news International Saturday, November 26, 2016 - 11:33

Cuba’s revolutionary leader and former president Fidel Castro died on Friday night (Cuban time) at the age of 90. The news was announced by his younger brother and Cuban President Raul Castro on state television.

"The commander in chief of the Cuban revolution died at 22:29 hours this evening," President Raul Castro said. He also said that Fidel Castro would be cremated on Saturday. His death will be nationally mourned for several days. 

Guardian reports that the announcement was long expected given Fidel Castro’s age and his health but the news of his death still came as a shock.  

In 1956, Castro and his guerrilla army began a war against US-backed Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista, successfully overthrowing him in 1959. He was sworn in as Prime Minister the same year and went on to become President in 1976.  He served Cuba for nearly 50 years and made the island-nation a one-party state.  

Fidel Castro improved living conditions of the poor, and achieved literacy and health rates, which was on par with developed countries in the West.  

While many hailed him as a hero and a freedom fighters, his critics labelled him as a dictator, accusing him of jailing oponents and not tolerating dissent.  Under his rule, thousands fled the country, with many Cubans settling in Florida, US.  

His communist policies and relations with Soviet Union led to a strain in relations with the United States, culminating in the Cuban Missile crisis in 1962, a 13-day showdown with the US which that nearly brought the world on the brink of nuclear war.

Castro’s death marks the end of an era. Despite multiple attempts to overthrow him, and multiple assassination attempts, Castro survived outlasting the breaking up of the Soviet Union, and 10 US presidents.

The former president stepped down temporarily in 2006 following an emergency surgery for internal bleeding, with his younger brother and Defence Minister Raul Castro taking charge. Raul Castro took over as President permanently in 2008.

Since then, Castro has remained away from the public eye. His last public appearance was in April this year at the Communist party’s congress in Havana. In his valedictory speech to the party, he said, "I will be 90-years-old soon...Soon I will be like all others." 

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