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Fidel Castro has died.

The news was announced on state television this morning - with a declaration of nine days of official mourning - by his brother, Raul, Cuba's current leader.

Revolutionary firebrand and leader of the island nation from 1959 to 2008, Fidel Castro survived decades of controversy over his rule to emerge unscathed as Cuba's premier elder statesman before his death on November 26, 2016.

Ailing from complications following a serious bout of diverticulitis in July 2006, rumors of Fidel Castro's death had buzzed the Internet for months, resulting in yet another official denial by the Cuban foreign minister in August.

On February 19, 2008 he made headlines worldwide when he announced that he would no longer "aspire to nor accept" the position he had held (first as prime minister, then as president from 1976) for over a half century and handed the reigns of government to his brother Raul Castro.

Rumors buzzed the Web yet again in November 2009 as more false stories spread over Castro's death leading at least one pundit to ask "...when the former Cuban leader finally passes away, will anyone actually believe it?"

Amid frequent rumors of his demise, Castro survived to see Cuba emerge as a prime tourist destination of American tourists after the US lifted its decades-old economic and political sanctions in 2014.

SInce then, the former communist leader kept his image alive in the media with infrequent photo ops, the most recent in February 2015 showing him in an animated discussion with a student in his home in Havana.

Fidel Castro photo dated February 2015
One of the last public photos of Fidel Castro taken in 2015 shows former Cuban communist leader Fidel Castro
with wife Dalia, and the leader of the student association of the University of Havana, Randy Perdomo Garcia.

Related News, Bios & Pictures
| Quotes

Castro rose to power in a Cuban guerilla campaign that toppled the Batista regime on January 1, 1959. Up until his resignation in 2008, he was one of the longest serving leaders of any nation in the world.

Since 1959, with the help of the now-defunct Soviet Union, Fidel Castro triumphed through several rumored assassination attempts and years of economic isolation, along with one famous invasion by the United States.

Born Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz on August 13, 1926 and raised in the Oriente Province in Cuba, young Fidel was educated in Catholic schools, and later at the University of Havana where he studied law.

It was during his university days when the young Castro joined a political group opposing the brutal dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista.

At age 27, Castro became involved in an attempt to overthrow the Batista government with a failed 1953 attack on an army post in Santiago de Cuba.

Fidel Castro leads the Cuban revolution
Fidel Castro proclaims Cuba "a free nation" in 1959.

Imprisoned, then released under a general amnesty in 1955, Castro was exiled to Mexico and there helped organize the 26th July movement, named for the date of the first unsuccessful revolution.

Joining forces with Ernest "Che" Guevara, he returned to his homeland with a small group of rebels - including his brother, Raul - to help lead an invasion that began in the mountains of the Sierra Maestra.

With the the help of Cuban peasants, the growing guerilla force eventually succeeded in forcing Batista to flee Cuba in late 1958 and proclaimed Cuba a free nation on January 1, 1959.

Initially hailed as a liberator, Castro took control of the economy by seizing all foreign property and collectivizing farmland in the name of the Cuban government. Many fled Cuba when Castro declared himself to be a Marxist-Leninist in close alliance with the Soviet Union.

A young Castro with Che Guevara in 1961.

At the height of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union, tensions with Cuba steadily grew until 1961, when the U.S. led an invasion of Cuban exiles at the disastrous Bay of Pigs.

A short year later, the world was at the brink of nuclear war with the October Cuban Missile Crisis - when the Soviet Union placed nuclear missiles capable of reaching the United States on the island some ninety miles off the Florida coast.

Following 14 days of intense international negotiations, the crisis was defused when the Soviet Union backed down and removed the missiles.

The aim of spreading the Marxist revolution throughout the region suffered a setback when Che Guevara was shot and killed by government forces in Bolivia in 1967. However, support from pro-Castro forces continued to grow steadily, witnessed by the Sandinista revolution, which helped overthrow the Anastasio Somoza Debayle regime in Nicaraqua in 1979.

Since the fall of the Soviet Union, Cuba has experienced serious economic problems, but Castro remained in power by opening up Cuba to increased non-US tourism and foreign investment while continuing to clamp down on public dissent.

Castro, with his common-law wife Dalia Soto del Valle of 30 years, have 5 sons: Angel, Antonio, Alejandro, Alexis and Alex.

Related Biographies, Pictures:

Fidel Castro - Wikipedia

Fidel Castro: From Rebel to El Presidente

American Experience | Fidel Castro

Fidel Castro History Archive

Castro, Fidel : The Rise to Power

Castro Speech Database


Famous Quotes:

•  Condemn me! It does not matter! History will absolve me.
- Statement read at the Urgency Tribunal, Santiago de Cuba, 1953.

•  I began revolution with 82 men. If I had to do it again, I do it with 10 or 15 and absolute faith. It does not matter how small you are if you have faith and plan of action.

•  If there ever was in the history of humanity an enemy who was truly universal, an enemy whose acts and moves trouble the entire world, threaten the entire world, attack the entire world in any way or another, that real and really universal enemy is precisely Yankee imperialism.

•  I would not vote for the mayor. It's not just because he didn't invite me to dinner, but because on my way into town from the airport there were such enormous potholes. On Mayor Giuliani's snub during a 1995 New York visit to the U.N.

•   The truth is that after several decades of neoliberalism, the rich are becoming increasingly richer while the poor are both more numerous and increasingly poorer.
- In a 2000 speech.


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