Fidel Castro dead at 90

The revolutionary leader of Cuba has died at the ripe old age of 90, after surviving numerous attempts by successive US governments to murder him. He said on his 80th birthday that, “I’m really happy to reach 80. I never expected it, not least having a neighbour, the greatest power in the world, trying to kill me every day.” He had proven so resilient that he seemed almost immortal and so his death, even though he had been having health issues for some time, comes as a shock.

Cuba has declared nine days of national mourning to mark the death of Fidel Castro, whose demise at the age of 90 has prompted emotional scenes in Havana and Miami, tributes and reflections from world leaders, and ushered the island into an uncertain era.

Given the former president’s age and health problems, the announcement of his death had long been expected. But when it came it was still a shock: the comandante – a figurehead for armed struggle across the developing world – was no more. It was news that friends and foes had long dreaded and yearned for respectively.

In addition to trying to murder him and destabilize the country by fomenting unrest, the US also imposed a harsh regime of economic sanctions aimed to destroying the Cuban economy and bring down his government and destroying the social welfare system that, despite the resulting economic hardship, provided free education that led to high levels of literacy, and free medical care to the people.

Latin America’s leftwing leaders mourned the passing of a figure who was perceived less as a communist and more as a nationalist symbol of regional pride and defiance against the “gringo” superpower.

The Venezuelan president, Nicolás Maduro, urged revolutionaries everywhere to “continue his legacy and carry his flag of independence, of socialism, of homeland”, while the Ecuadorian president, Rafael Correa, tweeted: “A great man has gone. Fidel is dead. Long live Cuba! Long live Latin America!”

Evo Morales, the president of Bolivia and a close ally of the late Cuban leader, said he was deeply saddened at Castro’s death. “Fidel [was] the only man in the world with so many principles and so many values,” he told the Latin American television network Telesur. “He made so much history not only for Cuba, but also for the planet. That is socialism.”

He added: “There will never again be a man or comrade like Fidel, who devoted his life, his knowledge and his struggle not only to the Cuban people but to all the people of the world.”

Castro and Cuba were sources of inspiration to revolutionary movements all over the developing world and aided many of them in overthrowing the colonial overlords that had kept them under brutal suppression. Most notably, he championed Nelson Mandela and the fight against apartheid at a time when the US, the UK, and the west were supporting that appalling racist system. Mandela never forgot it and repeatedly expressed his gratitude.


Tributes from other world leaders have poured in and Reuters has compiled a list of memorable quotes by Fidel, showing his defiance and impish sense of humor.

Fidel was a giant on the international stage, towering over all the US presidents who tried to kill him, overthrow him, or otherwise destroy his efforts to improve the lot of the Cuban people. Long after those presidents are forgotten, the name of Fidel will live on in the world.


  1. mnb0 says

    “Long after those presidents are forgotten, the name of Fidel will live on in the world.”
    Especially in the families of all his opponents he ordered to kill. And I’m sure Cuban gays will remember him as well.

  2. says

    Many people will criticize Castro for his actions, and I’m not going to criticize those who do. But one cannot honestly talk about Castro’s decisions and policies without addressing how he came to power.

    Castro had support and overthrew Batista’s fascist regime. The US armed and backed Batista’s anti-democratic actions, chose to support and impose fascism upon the Cuban populace and allow the country’s wealth to be stolen by wealthy americans.

    Would Castro have ever come to power if the US had supported democracy, acted in Cuban interests and stopped organized crime from operating in the country? Very likely not. Castro was awful, but the only alternative was worse, and it was the US that forced a choice between the two.


    Normally, when a world leader dies, dignitaries from various countries show up, and it will be interesting to see who attends Castro’s funeral. When former Canadian prime minister Pierre Trudeau died in 2000, leaders and key people attended his funeral. including Jimmy Carter and Fidel Castro. One has to wonder what sort of people will attend Castro’s funeral -- very likely, current Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau will be among them.

  3. jrkrideau says

    @4 Intransitive
    Castro was awful
    Not at all. What makes him a monster?

    Now Idi Amin was a monster.

    Castro definitely had his faults but by normal standards of behaviour of a head of state he was excellent. He took Cuba from a wholly owned American colony to an independent country with first-world health care and education levels.
    He made tremendous contributions to the defeat of apartheid and other colonial powers.

    My feeling is that much of the oppression of dissidents, etc., was simple a self-defence action against an irrational American vindictiveness. Don’t forget with roughly a year and a half of the Revolution the US had financed and facilitated the Bay of Pigs invasion. And then the CIA set off on a set of often bizarre attempts to assassinate him. Then the USA instigated truly draconian sanctions and continued to covertly arm and train anti-Castro terrorists.

    I am old enough to remember everything from the Bay of Pigs on, so I take a lot of the crap coming out of the US government and the anti-Castro Cuban community in Miami with a block of salt.

  4. Steve Cameron says

    It’s heartening to read this post and the comments here after seeing all sorts of slanted bs about Castro all over the news today. Castro was no angel, but compared to any American President, even Obama, his human rights record is enviable. When I visited Cuba a few years ago, the sense I got from most Cubans was even if they were tired of him and his brother they knew the source of their troubles was America’s anti-Cuban policies.

  5. Holms says

    Especially in the families of all his opponents he ordered to kill. And I’m sure Cuban gays will remember him as well.

    Sort of like most US leaders then, except with some redeeming qualities in education and health care. Oh and also he opposed fascism, as opposed to propping it up and even overthrowing democratically elected leaders abroad.

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