Cuba’s historic leader, Fidel Castro, dies In this April 19, 2011 file photo, Fidel Castro, left, raises his brother's hand, Cuba's President Raul Castro, center, as they sing the anthem of international socialism during the 6th Communist Party Congress in Havana, Cuba. (AP Photo/Javier Galeano, File)
Cuba’s historic leader, Fidel Castro, dies
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Fidel Castro, who led his bearded rebels to victorious revolution in 1959, embraced Soviet-style communism and defied the power of 10 U.S. presidents during his half-century of rule in Cuba, has died. He was 90 years old.
 
With a shaking voice, President Raul Castro said on state television that his older brother died Nov. 25. He ended the announcement by shouting the revolutionary slogan: "Toward victory, always!"
 
Castro's reign over the island nation 90 miles from Florida was marked by the U.S.-backed Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961. It was also marked by the Cuban Missile Crisis a year later. That event brought the world to the brink of nuclear war. Castro, who outlasted a crippling U.S. trade embargo as well as dozens, possibly hundreds, of assassination plots, died 10 years after a life-threatening illness. It led him to turn over power to his brother.
 
Castro overcame imprisonment at the hands of dictator Fulgencio Batista, exile in Mexico and a disastrous start to his rebellion before triumphantly riding into Havana in January 1959 to become, at age 32, the youngest leader in Latin America. For decades he was a source of inspiration and support to revolutionaries from Latin America to Africa, even as Cubans who fled to exile loathed him with equal measure.
 
Castro's commitment to socialism was unwavering. His power finally began to fade in mid-2006. That is when a gastrointestinal ailment forced him to hand over the presidency to Raul in 2008. Castro's defiant image lingered long after he gave up his trademark Cohiba cigars for health reasons and his tall frame grew stooped.
 
"Socialism or death" remained Castro's rallying cry. This was even as Western-style democracy swept the globe. Communist regimes in China and Vietnam embraced capitalism. That left the island nation of Cuba, with its 11 million people, economically crippled.
 
He survived long enough to see his brother negotiate an opening with U.S. President Barack Obama on Dec. 17, 2014. That is when Washington and Havana announced they would move to restore diplomatic ties. They were severed in 1961. Castro cautiously blessed the historic deal with his lifelong enemy. He did it in a letter published after a month-long silence. Obama made a historic visit to Havana in March 2016.
 
Raul has announced plans to retire as president. He has said he would retire when his term ends. That is scheduled Feb. 24, 2018. Vice President Miguel Diaz-Canel, a relatively younger leader, is seen as a possible successor. Raul has said he would stay on as head of the Communist Party.
 
Carlos Rodriguez, 15, was sitting in Havana's Miramar neighborhood when he heard that Fidel Castro had died.
 
"Fidel? Fidel?" he said, slapping his head in shock. "That's not what I was expecting. One always thought that he would last forever. It doesn't seem true."
 
"It's a tragedy," said 22-year-old nurse Dayan Montalvo. "We all grew up with him. I feel really hurt by the news that we just heard."
 
But the news cheered the community of Cuban exiles in Florida. They had had fled Castro's government. Thousands gathered in the streets in Miami's Little Havana. Cars honked horns. Police blocked off streets.
 
Alex Ferran, 21, headed toward the gathering. He was beside himself with excitement.
 
"We're here to celebrate. This is history in the making," Ferran said. "This is insane, dude. Someone died and there's a parade. This could only happen here."
 
Obama said that the United States extended "a hand of friendship to the Cuban people." He added that, "history will record and judge the enormous impact of this singular figure on the people and world around him."
 
Obama said that in the coming days, Cubans "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 America.
 
President-elect Donald Trump called Castro "a brutal dictator who oppressed his own people for nearly six decades." He said he hoped the death would clear the way "toward a future in which the wonderful Cuban people finally live in the freedom they so richly deserve."
 
By the time Castro resigned 49 years after his triumphant arrival in Havana, he was the world's longest ruling head of government, aside from monarchs.
 
Cuba's government announced that Castro's ashes would be interred on Dec. 4 in the eastern city of Santiago. It was a birthplace of his revolution. That will follow more than a week of honors.

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
What makes Cuba so important to the U.S.?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (22)
  • hrhett-dav
    12/08/2016 - 08:26 p.m.

    In response to "Cuba's Historic Leader, Fidel Castro, Dies," I agree that it is good he passed away. One reason I agree is that he was a cruel communist leader. Another reason is that he wanted to launch nukes at the U.S. during the Cuban missile crisis. It says in the article his brother, Raul, has announced plans to retire, giving the position to a younger better leader. A third reason I agree it is good he is dead is that he caused a economic crisis in the lower levels of the community. Even though some people are sad he died, I think
    I is a good thing and that our bond with Cuba will be restored.

  • levit-orv
    12/09/2016 - 11:22 a.m.

    Cuba is important to the us because the us just joined together a few years ago

  • jacklynt-ste
    12/13/2016 - 04:49 p.m.

    Wow half a century is a long time to rule a country. It is so sad that he had to announce the death of his brother on television, I definitely would not be able to do that. Fidel Castro overcame a lot in his life and I bed Cuba is sad to see him go.

  • 23kndeme
    12/21/2016 - 09:24 a.m.

    You can trade with them and it is a remakeadle place to see

  • 23sbfryc
    12/21/2016 - 09:31 a.m.

    Cuba could be our trading partner. They could give us money and we could give them things too. Maybe if we were in war they would help us win. The U.S. could also help Cuba if they were in a war. Also it is probably a beautiful place maybe we could go there and they could come here.

  • sierrab-ste
    1/16/2017 - 03:51 p.m.

    Only ten years ago, Fidel Castro had stepped down from power. There were so many attempts on his life which he managed to escape. He died at age 90, surviving 10 years of a life threatening illness.

  • matthewh1-bla
    1/27/2017 - 12:09 p.m.

    Cuba is so important to the United States because Cubas president really opens up to the people and is a great dictator. Also the US helps out Cuba by helping them when they got to war or if they need to pay off a debt

  • jesusm-ver
    2/10/2017 - 10:09 a.m.

    I think that it is good that Fidel Castro has died because he was keeping away the rights of his people everyone in Cuba needed to do what ever he said.

  • sadielp1-mac
    2/10/2017 - 01:07 p.m.

    i was happy to hear about Castro's death because I'm also Cuban even if it will not change nothing and I hope things will change for the better.

  • simonem-bur
    3/27/2017 - 11:14 a.m.

    Cuba is important to the United States because for many years, Cuba stopped all trade from the United States because of their leader at the time Fidel Castro. It was in 2015 that President Obama said that Americans can travel to and from Cuba. Our new leader said he wants to reverse that and make so we can't go over there anymore.

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