Former Cuban president Fidel Castro died at the age of 90 on November 27, sparking mixtures of joy and grief throughout the world, especially for Cuban exiles. Fidel was undoubtedly one of the most prolific world leaders in modern history. Take a look at his life in pictures after the jump.
It’s a day that many Cubans thought would never come: Fidel Castro has died. The Cuban president came into power in 1959, after overthrowing an unpopular dictator, Fulgencio Batista, with a small band of revolutionaries, including Che Guevara. But while he promised massive change, revolution, and democracy for the small nation, he toppled the government and built the only communist nation in the western hemisphere.
Fidel remained in power for 47 years, outlasting 11 American presidencies, and only gave up power in 2008 when an acute intestinal ailment became too much to bear.But it wasn’t relief for the Cuban people when Fidel stepped down; he gave control to his brother, Raul Castro, 85, who continued his policies and strengthened his legacy. It was Raul himself who announced Fidel’s death, giving a television address to the Cuban people late at night. Looking utterly devastated the Cuban president told his people that the country would be in an official state of mourning until December 4, when Fidel’s ashes would be laid to rest in Santiago.
Fidel was the longest-serving non-royal of the 20th century. After taking control of Cuba in 1959 as prime minister, he declared the country was now Marxist-Leninist, and allied with the Soviet Union — right in the middle of the Cold War. This is when relations got bad with the United States. Cuba is just 90 miles south of Florida, and Fidel’s presence was a major threat during the war.
He fought off the infamous CIA-led Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961 during the Kennedy presidency, and sparked the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 by agreeing that the USSR could deploy nuclear weapons in Cuba. He remained prime minister of the nation throughout this period, and was sworn in as president in 1976.
Critics have condemned Fidel as a dictator, after he established a one-party system in Cuba, began jailing political opponents, and executing hundreds of supporters of the former Batista government. Life in Cuba under Fidel was so oppressive that thousands of Cubans have risked their lives (and some died) over the past 47 years to escape to the United States from his rule.
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