Cuba’s revolutionary leader Fidel Castro has died at the age of 90, Cuba’s state TV announced.
The former Cuban leader defined himself as a Marxist-Leninist, and it was under his administration that the country became a one-party socialist state.
Until 2008, Fidel Castro was Cuba’s top leader, before handing the leadership to his brother Raul Castro because of ailing health. Castro had started to retreat from the public eye in 2006 following emergency surgery for intestinal bleeding.
For his supporters, Castro was a great leader who gave Cuba “back to the people.”
CCTV America’s Michael Voss, who is in the capital Havana, said people are sad to hear the news, but not shocked, as the leader’s health condition was known to public.
“He has a lot of respect in Cuba … the way he got Cuba on the map … he has made people proud to be Cuban,” Voss said via telephone. Castro is also known for resisting the U.S., architecting a communist party-run state 90 miles off its shores.
In 1956, Castro initiated a guerrilla war along with Argentinian Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara to overthrow the government of Fulgencio Batista. Three years later, he became the leader of Cuba.
In 1961, the CIA-led military invasion attempted to overthrow Castro but was unsuccessful, leading to ice-like diplomatic relationship and years of economic sanctions for decades.
“If surviving assassination attempts were an Olympic event, I would win the gold medal,” Castro is known to have said citing the countless U.S. assassination attempts.
After nearly a century, Castro saw the long-time rival re-establish diplomatic relations in 2015, when U.S. President Barack Obama became the first president to visit the country since 1928.
Under his leadership, Castro had also worked for promoting China-Cuba relations, which has been maintained under the current leadership.
In the past two years, China and Cuba have enhanced their political and economic cooperation. President Xi Jinping met Castro during his Cuba visit in 2014, while Premier Li Keqiang met the iconic figure in Havana earlier this year.
President Xi has called Castro the founder of Cuba’s revolutionary socialist values, who is loved by the Cuban people and respected by Chinese as well, and noted that Cuba will inherit and carry forward the historic friendship between older generations of Chinese leaders and Castro, infusing new energy into China-Cuba relations. Here is a timeline of the Cuban revolutionary leader’s political activities:
Story compiled with information from CCTV News.