- Fidel Castro was a titan of the Cold War
- He defied 11 American presidents
- US government spent more than $1bn trying to kill
Long serving leader of Cuba Fidel Castro has died aged 90.
Raul Castro formally announced the communist’s death on Cuban state owned television in the early hours of Saturday.
Fidel Castro celebrated his 90th birthday in August and told his mamooth of supporter that he’s going to die soon.
He’s been in poor health since an intestinal ailment nearly took his life in 2006 after which he handed power to his younger brother Raul Castro in 2008.
Hated by the United States, Castro was famous for long pseeches filled with blistering rhetoric aimed at his enemies especially the United States.
US made several attempts through CIA to assassinate him, but he remained defiant to US policies and ruled Cuba as one-party state.
He took power in 1959 revolution and ruled Cuba for 49 years.
Old age and disease
The US government spent more than $1bn trying to kill, undermine or otherwise force Castro from power, but he endured unscathed before old age and disease finally took him.
His supporters in Havana described him as a tireless defender of the poor.
Castro was “a giant of the Third World”, said Agustin Diaz Cartaya, 85, who joined Castro in the 1953 attack in eastern Cuba that launched the revolution. “No one has done more for the Third World than Fidel Castro.”
For five decades, he worked to turn the island nation into a place of equality and social justice.
His government produced tens of thousands of doctors and teachers and some of the lowest infant mortality and illiteracy rates in the Western hemisphere.
But Cuba never shook off its dependence on foreign dollars and the state-run economy failed to bring prosperity to most Cubans.
The US had tried for years to topple the Cuban government. Cuba stumbled along even after the collapse of its chief sponsor, the former Soviet Union.
The CIA plotted to assassinate Castro using everything from exploding seashells to lethal fungus. American officials cut off almost all trade to Cuba.
They financed dissidents and pro-democracy activists. But nothing worked during 11 successive administrations, from Dwight Eisenhower to Barack Obama.
US/Cuba renew relationship
On December 17, 2014, Obama announced that the US planned to renew diplomatic ties with Cuba and loosen some trade and travel restrictions.
Obama’s critics were enraged, saying he was throwing a lifeline to the socialist government and undermining the work of democracy activists who were regularly arrested and beaten.
Obama vowed to continue supporting democracy activists in Cuba, but said the US embargo hadn’t worked and lawmakers should lift it.
As part of the deal he struck with Cuba, the US agreed to send three Cuban spies back to the island in exchange for jailed American development worker Alan Gross and Rolando Sarraff Trujillo, a Cuban agent who spied for the CIA.
It was the Cuban government’s biggest political victory in decades, yet Fidel Castro was silent.
Castro had made the return of the Cuban spies an international crusade.
But it was his long overshadowed younger brother who announced the news to the Cuban people.
“Now we have won the war,” Raul Castro, 83, proclaimed on December 20, 2014.
The longtime chief of Cuba’s armed forces took the helm after his older brother fell ill in 2006. Since then, Raul Castro has pushed through economic reforms, expanding the private sector and allowing Cubans to buy and sell homes and cars.
But he has not earned the same reverence as his older brother, who remains the icon of the revolution for many Cubans.
Fidel Castro early life
Castro’s early life Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz was born on August 13, 1926, and grew up on a sugar plantation near the town of Birán in eastern Cuba.
His father, Angel Castro y Argis, was from the Spanish province of Galicia and journeyed to Cuba as a 13-year-old orphan during the Spanish-American War. His mother, Lina Ruz Gonzalez, was a servant.
Castro went to Jesuit schools before enrolling at the University of Havana, where he was a student leader.
He became a lawyer and was soon caught up in political causes aimed at toppling then-dictator Fulgencio Batista On July 26, 1953, Castro led a disastrous attack on the Moncada Barracks in Santiago de Cuba.
Half the rebels were killed and Castro was thrown in jail.
At his trial, Castro condemned the Batista regime. His speech – “History Will Absolve Me” – became the manifesto of the revolution and captivated ordinary Cubans, weary of the violent, corrupt Batista regime.
Fidel Castro addiction to extremely long speeches
Longest speech at UN Castro tried to win over Cubans in speeches that sometimes lasted more than seven hours.
A four-hour and 29 minute spiel in 1960 earned him the Guinness Book of Records title for the longest speech ever delivered at the UN.
“I was fighting for them to let me go,” Castro said later.In June 2001, Castro fainted two hours into a speech under the sweltering sun. He recovered, took his own pulse and decided to go back on stage.
But his bodyguards had pushed him into an emergency vehicle.
“I had to exercise a little bit of my authority. I said, ‘I’ll cooperate with you, but you cooperate with me.'”