Cuba’s iconic revolutionary Fidel Castro died Friday night in Havana, aged 90, sending shock and disbelief around the world.
Fidel was not only a Cuban hero, but icon of world history. He will be remembered as a champion of the world’s poor, a figure of Latin American integration, and an anti-imperialist hero.
Born in 1926 to a prominent landowner in Holguín Province, Cuba, Fidel went on to lead Cuba’s revolutionary independence movement, defeating the U.S.-backed Batista dictatorship in 1959. Soon after his movement took power, Fidel, first as prime minister and then as president, adopted an explicitly socialist model of development and forged strong ties with the Soviet Union, earning the wrath of the United States.
For the next 48 years, until resigning in 2008, Fidel led the tiny island nation to historic levels of development, leading the world in many social indicators including literacy and public health rates. Fidel and his revolution sustained more than 50 years of attacks from the United States, at its peak during the Cold War, but which still lives on today through the harsh economic blockade on the island.