Legendary Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro died on Friday (25 November) local time, his brother and President Raul Castro announced on state television. The former leader was a titan of the Cold War and had pushed Cuba onto the world stage. He was the symbol of Cuba and held power for almost 50 years before his brother Raul officially took over as the president in 2008. Fidel Castro will be cremated on Saturday, 26 November.
In this gallery, IBTimes UK looks back at the life and times of the former Cuban leader.
Note: This gallery was first published on 12 August 2016 to mark the leader's 90th birthday.
The son of a wealthy sugar planter, Fidel Castro won international infamy by leading a guerrilla campaign that, with popular support, ousted right-wing dictator General Fulgencio Batista on 1 January 1959. Castro launched a political, social and economic revolution that transformed the Caribbean island. He was aided in creating the first communist administration in the Western Hemisphere by his close friend, revolutionary icon and Argentine native, Ernesto 'Che' Guevara.
The United States initially recognised the new government, but relations began to sour during the summary trials and executions of Batista loyalists. In 1960, Cuba nationalised US-owned oil refineries. Nearly all other US businesses were expropriated soon afterwards.
Castro's belligerently anti-US stance made him the target of a series of attempts by Washington to remove him. These included an abortive invasion attempt at Cuba's southern Bay of Pigs in 1961 by more than 1,000 Cuban exiles trained and financed by the US Central Intelligence Agency. Shortly after the Bay of Pigs fiasco, Havana and Moscow signed a pact agreeing to secretly install Soviet nuclear missiles on Cuban soil. The world was brought to the brink of nuclear war when Washington discovered their existence. The tension did not subside until Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev agreed to dismantle the missile sites.
Castro continued to foster close relations with Moscow that were to last for three decades. During the 1980s, after years of economic struggle, Cuba began to enjoy reasonable prosperity, largely due to trade agreements with the Soviet Bloc. By the end of the decade, however, Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev was moving Soviet republics towards a market economy, and in 1989 he visited Havana in an attempt to persuade Castro to accept change. Castro insisted Cuba should follow old-style communist doctrine and isolated himself from the bloodless revolution that resulted in the collapse of the Soviet Union.
With the loss of his old trading partners and the continuance of US trade embargo, Cuba's economy almost immediately went into a steep decline. Food and consumer-goods shortages became acute, and rationing of food and fuel was introduced during what was to become known as the 'Special Period'.In the summer of 1994, when Cuba was suffering its worst post-Soviet economic crisis, more than 30,000 Cubans took to the sea in boats and rickety rafts heading for the southern tip of Florida. Most were picked up by the US Coast Guard and ended up in the US, but many lost their lives in the shark-infested waters.
Castro continued to be a global icon for leftist leaders, and kept close ties with his protégé, the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez. Yet health continued to plague Castro in the new millennium as he fainted during speeches and finally began to accept a transfer of power. Castro's health finally gave out in June 2006, when a serious intestinal ailment forced him to hand provisional power over to his younger brother, Raúl Castro.
After stepping down in 2008, he watched as his brother Raul granted Cubans new economic freedoms and declared detente with the United States after half a century of hostility.
Castro appeared in public in April 2016, closing the twice-a-decade congress of the Cuban Communist Party with a call for Cuba to stick to its socialist ideals in the midst of normalisation with the US. His voice quavered but he appeared vigorous and healthy for a man of his age. "Soon I'll be 90, something that never would have occurred to me," he said. "Soon I'll be like all the others. Our time comes for all of us, but the ideas of the Cuban communists will endure."
He made his last public appearance at a gala event to mark his 90th birthday on 13 August. On the same day he published a letter in the state-run newspaper thanking his well-wishers and slamming US President Barack Obama for not apologising to the Japanese people for the atomic bomb dropped by the US during World War II, when he visited the site in May.
This article was first published
on August 12, 2016