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 later 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!”.
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 – who had survived many assassination plots – was the longest serving non-royal leader of the 20th Century. 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.
Key dates of Fidel Castro
- 1926: Born in the south-eastern Oriente Province of Cuba
- 1953: Imprisoned after leading an unsuccessful rising against Batista’s regime
- 1955: Released from prison under an amnesty deal
- 1956: With Che Guevara, begins a guerrilla war against the government
- 1959: Defeats Batista, sworn in as prime minister of Cuba
- 1961: Fights off CIA-sponsored Bay of Pigs invasion by Cuban exiles
- 1962: Sparks Cuban missile crisis by agreeing that USSR can deploy nuclear missiles in Cuba
- 1976: Elected president by Cuba’s National Assembly
- 1992: Reaches an agreement with US over Cuban refugees
- 2006: Hands over reins to brother Raul due to health issues, stands down as president two years later
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi called Castro “one of the most iconic personalities of the 20th century” saying his country mourned his loss. Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto said Castro was a “great friend” of Mexico.