Fidel Castro, the communist dictator of Cuba that remained the leader of his country for decades, has died at the age of 90. The communist leader’s brother, Raul Castro, confirmed on Cuban-run television Friday night that the former President who almost brought the world into World War III is no longer alive. Fidel Castro stepped down as the leader of Cuba nearly a decade ago due to gastrointestinal illness, but ceded power to his brother Raul who remains in charge to this day.
“The commander in chief of the Cuban revolution died at 22:29 hours this evening,” Raul Castro said.
Cuban-Americans in cities like Miami have cheered the death of the communist leader since the announcement.
Fidel took control of Cuba in 1959 and created a one-party Communist system that he oversaw until ceding control of the country to his brother in 2008. During the height of the Cold War, Castro created the only communist government in the entire Western hemisphere, less than 100 miles from the United States. Cuba aligned closely with the Soviet Union which almost brought the world into World War III in the 1960’s with the Cuban Missile crisis.
Castro’s reign spanned through 11 U.S. Presidents. Castro survived over 600 assassination attempts, including some from the CIA in the 1960’s.
Recently, Castro commented on his age saying that he’ll “soon be 90,” and that was something he “never imagined”.
“Soon I’ll be like all the others, to all our turn must come,” he added.
“I have never been afraid of death,” Castro said in 2002. “I have never been concerned about death.”
During a Republican primary debate in 2008, Mitt Romney was asked what he would do as President if he found out Fidel Castro had died. Romney answered: “Well first of all, you thank heavens that Fidel Castro has returned to his maker and will be sent to another land.”
Newt Gingrich, who was also participating in the debate said: “I don’t think that Fidel is going to meet his maker. I think he’s going to go to the other place.”