Former Cuban Communist revolutionary and President Fidel Castro had died at age 90.
His death was announced on Cuban television by his younger brother Raul on Friday, reports the Associated Press. Raul also announced that his brother’s body would be cremated on Saturday. An official period of mourning has been declared until December 4 when Castro’s ashes will be laid to rest.
Fidel Castro led the Cuban revolution in 1959 when he and a small guerrilla army toppled dictator Fulgecino Batista in Havana in 1959. Two years after the revolution, Castro declared the small Caribbean nation Communist and aligned with the Soviet Union. The move would isolate Cuba—which is 90 miles off the coast of Florida—from the United States for decades to follow. Castro maintained power despite US-backed economic embargoes and several reported attempts on his life by the CIA. He lived through 10 U.S. presidents and became the longest serving non-royal leader in the world.
Castro remained in power from 1959 until 2006 when he stepped aside following a serious illness. He formally resigned in 2008, making his younger brother and former Minister of Defense, Raul Castro, president.
In recent times, President Barack Obama has worked to warm relations between the U.S. and Cuba by ordering the restoration of diplomatic relations and the opening of a U.S. embassy in Havana. Earlier this year Obama became the first sitting American president to visit the island in 88 years.
Castro’s death has been met with mixed feelings. While some deemed him a revolutionary figure worthy of admiration; others saw Castro as a tyrant and dictator. Early Saturday, Cuban Americans took to the streets in Little Havana in Miami to celebrate his death.
Castro is dead and Miami is alive pic.twitter.com/B9sP8UFImI— Complex News (@Complex_News) November 26, 2016