Castro dies at 90

Fidel Castro, former revolutionary leader and president of Cuba, died on Nov. 25 at the age of 90.

News of his death was announced on Cuban state television by his brother and current Cuban President, Raúl Castro.

After the Cuban Government decreed nine years of mourning in Fidel’s death, he was cremated, with his remains buried on Dec. 4 at Santa Ifigenia in Santiago de Cuba.

Many foreign dignitaries attended the state funeral, including representatives from the United Kingdom, United States, Brazil, Japan, Uganda, Canada, Russia and Iran.

Fidel’s dying wish will be fulfilled, as the national assembly introduced legislation to ensure that no statues or monuments will be made in his honor.

“The leader of the revolution rejected any manifestation of a cult of personality,” Raúl said.

Although he refused to have a single statue of himself, Fidel had ruled Cuba for over five decades, only recently handing off power to Raúl in 2008.

Fidel’s accolades throughout his life totaled more than 25 awards from different countries, including the Hero of the Soviet Union award in 1963 and South Africa’s Supreme Companion of O.R. Tambo award in 2009.

There are many different perceptions of his legacy due to significant involvement in events such as the Cuban Revolution and the Cuban Missile Crisis.

On Twitter, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was “one of the most iconic personalities of the 20th century.”

Meanwhile, groups of Cuban refugees and locals of the Little Havana community in Florida celebrated Castro’s death as positive change for Cuba.

“Finally, the traitor whose Communist rule uprooted me from all I knew and loved and brought me to these shores with a broken heart is gone,” said Fabiola Santiago, a columnist for the Miami Herald.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed condolences to Cuba over the death of its former leader.

“Under former President Castro, Cuba made advances in the fields of education, literacy and health,” said Ki-moon, “I hope that Cuba will continue to advance on a path of reform and greater prosperity.”

Early Life

Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz was born Aug. 13, 1926 in Birán, Cuba. He is the third of six children and raised by parents Ángel and Lina Castro.

His father, Ángel, was a successful sugar plantation owner that provided Fidel with wealth and private education.

In his schooling, Fidel picked sports over his studies, playing baseball and running on the track team. After graduating in 1945, Fidel went into law school at the University of Havana, where he showed interest in the ideals of nationalism and socialism.

In an interview with Ignacio Ramonet, Castro revealed how his influence sprung from anti-imperialist revolutionary Jose Marti and German sociologist and theorist Karl Marx.

“When he (Marti) spoke that phrase I’ll never be able to forget – ‘All the glory in the world fits into a grain of corn’ – it seemed extraordinarily beautiful to me, in the face of all the vanity and ambition that one saw everywhere, and against which we revolutionaries must be on constant guard,” said Fidel.

Revolution and fall

Fidel later focused on social justice for the country of Cuba, and was heavily involved in the Cuban Revolution of 1959.

With the help of Raul, Guevara, and Fidel’s 26th of July Movement, the armed forces overthrew the authoritarian government of Cuban President Fulgencio Batista.

Footage of Fidel after the revolution showed his love for Cuba, as well as what was soon to come.

“Flaunting, re-established in the Republic, the liberty and civil power in all of its fullness,” said Fidel. “I call on the working leaders and all of the workers to end the general revolutionary strike that culminated in the most beautiful victory of our people.”

After Fidel became president of Cuba, he established several reforms. He denied being a communist or using socialist methods, only to later accept them.

Allying with the Soviet Union in the Cold War, Fidel became a main figure of the Cuban Missile Crisis.

In a broadcasted address by John F. Kennedy, the discovery of plans to house Soviet missiles in Cuba was a “sudden, clandestine decision to station strategic weapons for the first time outside of Soviet soil–is a deliberately provocative and unjustified change in the status quo which cannot be accepted by this country.”

When a deal was reached to prevent the placement of the missiles, Fidel was upset, and Cuban relations with the USSR dissolved as the Cold War came to an end.

“They talked about the failure of socialism,” said Fidel, “but where is the success of capitalism in Africa, Asia and Latin America?”

Fidel continued as president of Cuba until 2008, when he stepped down as the leader of his party and as president, which led to the official presidency of Raúl.

Perspective and the Future

From the good Fidel had done, website Quartz documented by the numbers of Cuba’s “famed” healthcare focus and is recognized as a “global medical-training capital.” Mortality rates in Cuba were also lower than those in United States in 2013.

Human Rights Watch, however, documented how the Cuban government continued to repress freedom of expression and having complete control of all media outlets.

With mourning on one side, and celebrations on another, President Barrack Obama released a statement that would acknowledge the historic relations with the United States and Cuba under Castro’s regime.

“Today, we offer condolences to Fidel Castro’s family, and our thoughts and prayers are with the Cuban people,” Obama said. “In the days ahead, they will recall the past and also look to the future. As they do, the Cuban people must know that they have a friend and partner in the United States of America.”