Havana: Former President Fidel Castro, who led a rebel army to improbable victory in Cuba, embraced Soviet-style communism and defied the power of 10 US presidents during his half century rule, has died at age 90.
With a shaking voice, his younger brother, Raul Castro, announced on state television that his brother died on Friday night. Castro’s reign over the island-nation 90 miles from Florida was marked by the US-backed Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961 and the Cuban Missile Crisis a year later that brought the world to the brink of nuclear war.
The bearded revolutionary, who survived a crippling US trade embargo as well as dozens, possibly hundreds, of assassination plots, died eight years after ill health forced him to formally hand power over to Raul.
Cuba declared nine days of public mourning on Saturday for Fidel Castro, and said his ashes will be buried at a ceremony on December 4 in Santiago de Cuba.
From November 26 to December 4, “public activities and shows will cease, the national flag will fly at half mast on public buildings and military installations,” a statement from the state executive said.
CIA’s 638 ways to kill Castro
For nearly half a century, the CIA and Cuban exiles have been trying to devise ways to assassinate Fidel Castro.In his 40s, Castro had dodged several CIA-backed assassination attempts – including plots involving exploding cigars, a fungus-infected scuba-diving suit and a poisoned pen syringe. In total the CIA plotted an estimated 638 attempts on Castro’s life. None of the plots, of course, succeeded.
‘Tyrant’ is gone: Cuban exiles celebrate Fidel Castro’s death
Miami: In contrast, the reaction from some Cubans living in the United States was scathing and celebratory.
US Congress representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Cuban-American Republican from Miami, said in a statement: “A tyrant is dead and a new beginning can dawn on the last remaining communist bastion of the Western Hemisphere.”
In Miami, Many exiles who fled the Cuban revolution, took to the streets to celebrate Castro’s death.
Mikhail Gorbachev, Former Soviet leader
Fidel Castro stood up and strengthened his country during the harshest American blockade, when there was colossal pressure on him and he still took his country out of this blockade to a path of independent development.
Fidel Castro and the 11 US presidents
From Dwight Eisenhower to Barack Obama, 11 US presidents faced off with Fidel Castro.
Dwight Eisenhower: Provided arms to dictator Fulgencio Batista. Prepared the invasion of the Bay of Pigs and broke off diplomatic ties with Cuba.
John F Kennedy: Gave the green light for the invasion of the Bay of Pigs in April 1961. Put in place the US embargo against Cuba
Lyndon Johnson: Approved CIA plots to assassinate Castro.
Richard Nixon: Boosted anti-Castro activity.
Gerald Ford: Authorised the first trip of US businessmen to Cuba and eased the embargo.
Jimmy Carter: Further eased the embargo.
Ronald Reagan: Easing of embargo rolled back.
George H W Bush: Reinforced embargo with the Torricelli Act, as the Soviet bloc crumbled.
Bill Clinton: Put into force Torricelli Act and approved Helms-Burton Act, which again tightened embargo.
George W. Bush: Increased financial aid to anti-Castro groups and strengthened embargo.
Barack Obama: Lifted restrictions on trips by exiles and amount of money they could send home. Visited Cuba in March 2016, the first by a serving US president since 1928.
His path towards revolution
August 13, 1926: Born in the south-eastern Oriente Province of Cuba
July 26, 1953: Imprisoned after leading an unsuccessful rising against Batista’s regime
1955: Released from prison under an amnesty deal
December 2, 1956: With Che Guevara, begins a guerrilla war against the government
January 1, 1959: Defeats Batista, sworn in as prime minister of Cuba
April 17-19, 1961: Fights off CIA-sponsored Bay of Pigs invasion by Cuban exiles
October, 1962: Sparks Cuban missile crisis
1965: Castro founds the Communist Party of Cuba
1976: Elected president by Cuba National Assembly
1980: Gives green light to refugee exodus of 125,000 on the so-called Mariel boatlift to the United States.
1992: Reaches an agreement with US on Cuban refugees
July 31, 2006: Hands over reins to brother Raul due to health issues, stands down as president two years later
Late November-December, 2006: Fails to appear during celebrations for his 80th birthday
February 2008: Raul Castro is named president.
March 22, 2011: Fidel Castro confirms he no longer holds any official title.
December 17, 2014: He remains out of sight as Raul and US President Barack Obama announce the normalisation of relations.
July 20, 2015: United States and Cuba reopen embassies in each other’s capitals.
November 25, 2016: Fidel Castro dies aged 90, Raul Castro announces.