Cuba’s Fidel Castro, one of the world’s longest-serving and most iconic leaders, has died aged 90. His death, in conjunction with continuing efforts to achieve peace between leftist rebels and the Colombian government, appears to drop the curtain on six decades of revolutionary conflict in Latin America.
Castro’s younger brother and successor as president Raul Castro, announced the death on state television.
Ecuador President Rafael Correa said that the world had lost a great leader and that Ecuador had lost a friend. “He was the great one. Fidel has died.
Long live Cuba! Long live Latin America!,” Correa wrote on his Twitter account.
Castro toppled the government of dictator Juan Batista in 1959, introducing a Communist revolution. He defied the U.S. for decades, allying himself with the Soviet Union during the Cold War, and survived several assassination plots.
His supporters said he had given Cuba back to the people. Critics claimed he was a dictator who impoverished the nation.
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.
“The commander in chief of the Cuban revolution died at 22:29 hours this evening (03:29 GMT Saturday),” he said. “Towards victory, always!” he added, using a revolutionary slogan.
There is to be several days of national mourning on the island.
Barring the occasional newspaper column, Fidel Castro had essentially been retired from political life for several years. In April, Fidel Castro gave a rare speech on the final day of the country’s Communist Party congress.
“I’ll soon be 90,” the former president said, adding that this was “something I’d never imagined,” he said. “Soon I’ll be like all the others, to all our turn must come.”
Castro was the longest serving non-royal leader of the 20th Century.