Cuba’s Fidel Cas­tro, for­mer pres­i­dent, dies aged 90

Bhutan Times - - Editorial -

Fidel Cas­tro, Cuba’s for­mer pres­i­dent and leader of the Com­mu­nist rev­o­lu­tion, has died aged 90, his brother has said.

“The com­man­der in chief of the Cuban rev­o­lu­tion died at 22:29 hours this evening (03:29 GMT Satur­day),” Pres­i­dent Raul Cas­tro said.

Fidel Cas­tro ruled Cuba as a one-party state for al­most 50 years be­fore Raul took over in 2008.

His sup­port­ers said he had given Cuba back to the peo­ple. But he was also ac­cused of sup­press­ing op­po­si­tion.

Ashen and grave, Pres­i­dent Cas­tro told the na­tion in an un­ex­pected late night broad­cast on state tele­vi­sion that Fidel Cas­tro had died and would be cre­mated on Satur­day.

There would now be sev­eral days of na­tional mourning on the is­land.

Raul Cas­tro ended the an­nounce­ment by shout­ing the rev­o­lu­tion­ary slo­gan: “To­wards vic­tory, al­ways!”

Bar­ring the oc­ca­sional news­pa­per col­umn, Fidel Cas­tro had es­sen­tially been re­tired from po­lit­i­cal life for some time, the BBC’s Will Grant in Ha­vana re­ports.

In April, Fidel Cas­tro gave a rare speech on the fi­nal day of the coun­try’s Com­mu­nist Party congress.

He ac­knowl­edged his ad­vanced age but said Cuban com­mu­nist con­cepts were still valid and the Cuban peo­ple “will be vic­to­ri­ous”.

“I’ll soon be 90,” the for­mer pres­i­dent said, adding that this was “some­thing I’d never imag­ined”.

“Soon I’ll be like all the oth­ers, “to all our turn must come,” Fidel Cas­tro said.

Cas­tro tem­po­rar­ily handed over power to his brother in 2006 as he was re­cov­er­ing from an acute in­testi­nal ail­ment.

Raul Cas­tro of­fi­cially be­came pres­i­dent two years later.

Through­out the Cold War, Fidel Cas­tro was Wash­ing­ton’s bete noire.

An ac­com­plished tac­ti­cian on the bat­tle­field, he and his small army of guer­ril­las over­threw the mil­i­tary leader Ful­gen­cio Batista in 1959 to wide­spread pop­u­lar sup­port.

Within two years of tak­ing power, he de­clared the rev­o­lu­tion to be Marx­istLenin­ist in na­ture and al­lied the is­land na­tion firmly to the Soviet Union.

Yet, de­spite the con­stant threat of a US in­va­sion as well as the long-stand­ing eco­nomic em­bargo on the is­land, Cas­tro man­aged to main­tain a com­mu­nist rev­o­lu­tion in a na­tion just 90 miles (145km) off the coast of Florida.

De­spised by his crit­ics as much as he was revered by his fol­low­ers, he out­lasted ten US pres­i­dents and de­fied scores of at­tempts on his life by the CIA.

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