WATCH ABOVE: The Cuban revolutionary who went on to become the president of Cuba and a key figure in the Cold War has died. Cuban President Raul Castro announced the death of his brother Fidel Castro on Cuban state media on Friday. Eric Sorenson looks back on the life of iconic political leader.
Cuban revolutionary Fidel Castro has died at age 90, according to a televised statement from President Raul Castro.
With a shaking voice, his younger brother, Raul, announced on state television that his brother died at 10:29 p.m. on Friday night.
Castro led the country as a one-party communist state and first governed the Republic of Cuba as prime minister from 1959 to 1976 and then as president from 1976 to 2008, after helping to overthrow the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista in 1952.
Under his rule, relations between Cuba and the United States seized during the Cold War as Cuba maintained friendly ties with the communist Soviet Union.
Antagonism came to a head in 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis when Castro allowed the Soviets to place nuclear warheads on the Caribbean island, which brought the world to the brink of a nuclear war.
His supporters lauded him for creating the first communist nation in the western hemisphere and carrying the party into the 21st century, while his detractors have targeted him for suppressing opposition and sending many citizens into political prisons and labour camps.
His policies also caused hundreds of thousands of wealthy and middle-class Cubans to flee for the shores of the United States, with many settling in Florida.
The bearded revolutionary, who survived a crippling U.S. 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 in 2008.
He survived long enough to see Raul Castro negotiate an opening with U.S. President Barack Obama on Dec. 17, 2014, when Washington and Havana announced they would move to restore diplomatic ties for the first time since they were severed in 1961. He cautiously blessed the historic deal with his lifelong enemy in a letter published after a month-long silence.
In April, he gave a rare speech to the Communist Party, saying he would die soon.
“I’ll be 90 years old soon,” Castro said in his most extensive public appearance in years. “Soon I’ll be like all the others. The time will come for all of us, but the ideas of the Cuban Communists will remain as proof on this planet that if they are worked at with fervour and dignity, they can produce the material and cultural goods that human beings need, and we need to fight without a truce to obtain them.”
Celebration and joy following the news
Emotions of both extremes were felt following the death of former Cuban president, Fidel Castro.
The streets of Havana were quiet with mourning after last night’s announcement was made.
However, in a small Cuban neighbourhood within Miami, former exiles and their descendants were celebrating the news.
The Anti-Castro Democracy Movement says this ends a symbol of repression for almost 60 years. Families have been divided, people imprisoned and executed, which has caused much pain and suffering as a result.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau offered his condolences to the Cuban people on their loss Saturday morning.
A tribute was made in Madagascar, on behalf of his family and all Canadians.
Trudeau was in Cuba about two weeks ago for other business, and did not meet with the aging dictator.
The former revolutionary leader will be cremated Saturday.
His ashes will make a cross-country tour starting Wednesday from Havana to Santiago, on a similar route to the revolution he triumphed in 1959.
– With files from Briana Carnegie, AM640.