Fidel Castro, a Marxist who led Cuba from 1959 to 2008, passed away on Friday at the age of 90. Castro ruled his country longer than any other modern world leader, except for Britain’s Queen Elizabeth. He was a thorn in the side of Cuba’s much larger neighbor 90 miles to the north, the United States, vexing 11 presidents by bringing communism to their doorstep and embarrassing the CIA with a failed Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961.
Fidel Castro was succeeded as Cuba’s ruler by his brother, Raul Castro, in 2008, who reestablished diplomatic and economic ties with the US in 2014. When US President Barack Obama visited Cuba for three days in March, it was the first time a US president had done so since 1928. President Obama said in a speech in Havana that it was time for the two countries to look forward “as friends and as neighbors and as family, together”.
Fidel Castro did not meet President Obama, and responded to the presidential visit by writing a scathing reply in the state media titled “Brother Obama” in which he criticized “a ruthless blockade that has now lasted for almost 60 years”.
When he heard of Castro’s death, President Obama made a statement to the press on Friday, saying, “History will record and judge the enormous impact of this singular figure on the people and world around him,” adding, “In the days ahead, they will recall the past and also look to the future”.
Others were less complimentary when remembering the leader who brought the world to the brink of nuclear war during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.
Fidel Castro is dead!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 26, 2016
Vice President-elect, Mike Pence, wrote on Twitter, “The tyrant Castro is dead. New hope dawns. … Viva Cuba Libre!” he said on Twitter.
Florida Senator Marco Rubio was even more blunt.
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) November 26, 2016
Castro broke off relations with Israel in 1973. He was a close friend and Ally of Palestinian leader, Yaaser Arafat, helping to train PLO terrorists for the intifada in 1987.
“Cuba stood with the Palestinian people and their liberation movement in all facets of international struggle, building a revolutionary alliance for collective movement against imperialism, colonialism and its particular manifestation in Palestine, Zionism,” a statement posted on the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) website on Saturday said. “Zionism has been a key weapon of racist oppression, a fact recognized by Fidel Castro and the Cuban people and state.”
— Alex Shams (@seyyedreza) November 26, 2016
A nine-day period of morning has been declared in Cuba.