Fidel Castro, a few hours after his 90th birthday / photo: nodal.am

Cuba’s leader of revolution, Fidel Castro, dies at 90

Fidel Castro, revolutionary leader of Cuba has died at the age of 90. He had been in poor health since an intestinal ailment nearly killed him in 2006.

The news was announced by his successor as Cuban president Raúl Castro, his own brother, on Cuban national TV.

“The commander in chief of the Cuban revolution died at 22:29 hours this evening (11:29am Singapore Time, Saturday),” he said.

He will be cremated later on Saturday (26 Nov), Raúl Castro added, but he gave no explanation for the cause of the ex-president’s death

Raul Castro finished the announcement by shouting the revolutionary slogan, “Towards victory, always!”

There is to be several days of national mourning on the island.

The Guardian reported that tributes have been paid by Latin American leaders as the Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro, Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto and Ecuador’s president Rafael Correa.

India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, commented to the news as ‘tragic’, mentioning that Castro was ‘one of the most iconic personalities of the 20th century’ and ‘a great friend’.

Imran Khan, leader of Pakistan’s Tehreek-e-Insaf party, said Castro was ‘an iconic revolutionary leader … who liberated his nation from all vestiges of imperialism’.

But celebrations broke out in Little Havana in Miami, USA, the home to many exiled Cubans in the US.

Castro had gone about his daily activities out of the public eye, and how much influence the retired commandant still possessed had been unknown. He had been seen in public every once in a while to reassure his followers that he was very much around, frustrating those who wished he was not.

Last April, Fidel Castro had given a rare speech on the final day of the country’s Communist Party congress.

“I’ll soon be 90,” the former president has said, “this was something I’d never imagined”.  He celebrated his nineteenth birthday on 13 August this year.

So far other country leaders who have sent their condolences are the former London Mayor Ken Livingstone, the Spanish Government, Nelson Mandela, and Michael Gorbachev, the Guardian reported.

But the White House has not yet given any reaction. In December 2014, Obama and Raúl Castro had announced an extraordinary reconciliation in US-Cuban relations, promising to restore diplomatic ties and bring the US and Cuba into a more agreeable relationship, although there are many in the US congress still opposed to normalising the relations with Havana as long as any Castro is in power.

Cuba and the United States had cut ties in 1961 during the Cold War, but the diplomatic relations has been restored on 20 July 2015. However the United States continues to maintain its commercial, economic, and financial embargo, which makes it illegal for U.S. corporations to do business with Cuba.