Cuban Revolutionary Leader Fidel Castro Dies at 90
His brother, Raul, who took over for Fidel in 2008, broke the news on Cuban TV on Friday night.
Castro was the country’s prime minister from 1959-1976 and the president from 1976-2008.
Castro seized power in the country during a coup to overthrow dictator Fulgencio Batista in 1959. He would install the lone Communist government in the West and no other living national leader served longer in that capacity in the 20th century other than Queen Elizabeth II. His pro-Communist stance often clashed with the United States and he infamously presided over Cuba during the Bay of Pigs invasion after he aligned with the Soviet Union shortly after rising to power during the height of the Cold War.
He was also in power during the famed Cuban Missile Crisis, which nearly caused nuclear war.
Despite an economic embargo put in place by the U.S. in 1960 and the decision to cut diplomatic ties with the small island nation, Castro maintained Cuba’s one-party system and imprisoned those who were against him.
As the man in charge of a Communist regime, Castro had many supporters and many detractors. There are rumors that he survived hundreds of attempts on his life, many by the CIA.
Relations between the U.S. and Cuba remained tense for nearly a dozen presidential administrations, although they improved in recent years. Last year, they agreed to re-open diplomatic relations and in March of this year President Obama visited the country.