Fidel Castro, a titan of the Cold War who defied 10 US presidents and thrust Cuba onto the world stage, is dead at age 90. 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. Cuban people 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, Castro 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 achieved some of the lowest infant mortality and illiteracy rates in the Western hemisphere.
The US had tried for years to topple the Cuban government. Cuba stumbled along even after the collapse of its chief ally, the former Soviet Union. The CIA plotted to assassinate Castro using everything from exploding seashells to lethal fungus, US officials cut off almost all trade to Cuba and they financed dissidents and pro-democracy activists. But nothing worked during 11 successive administrations, from Dwight Eisenhower to Barack Obama. On December 17, 2014, Obama announced that the US planned to renew diplomatic ties with Cuba and loosen some trade and travel restrictions.
In January 1959, Fidel Castro, a fiery revolutionary, emerged from the jungle and entered Havana to triumphantly declare the overthrow of Fulgencio Batista, a dictator and US ally. Soon, the young guerrilla would remove any doubt as to his ideology, declaring the revolution socialist and the country communist, and in the process altering the relationship between Cuba and the US for the next 55 years.
Castro quickly became a thorn in Washington’s side, and US leaders repeatedly sought ways to weaken his hold and oust him from power, including an economic embargo, assassination attempts and a failed invasion at the Bay of Pigs.
#FidelCastro leaves strong mark on modern political literature https://t.co/iLrDRSVwwO pic.twitter.com/0pKv4z1GiE — China Xinhua News (@XHNews) November 27, 2016
Cubans in Havana mourn Fidel Castro's death #Castro #Havana pic.twitter.com/Uqx6KDkYmk — AFP news agency (@AFP) November 27, 2016
Today I mourn the loss of a friend, the late Cuban leader Fidel Castro...https://t.co/sgsDaV3EsN pic.twitter.com/2Jcmz52SLx — Kofi Annan (@KofiAnnan) November 27, 2016
Fidel Castro - the man who saved Diego Maradona's life https://t.co/Sgu56oktS1 pic.twitter.com/OBBgh10cdf — Goal UK (@GoalUK) November 26, 2016