Fidel Castro, the revolutionary Cuban leader died on Friday at the age of 90.
President Raúl Castro announced the passing of his brother on national television :”The commander in chief of the Cuban revolution died at 22:29 hours this evening”
Raúl added that Fidel would be cremated on Saturday, giving no cause of death but ending the address with the revolutionary slogan:
“Hasta La Victoria Siempre!” which translates to “Ever onward, to victory!”
The Cuban government has declared nine days of national mourning and announced that Castro’s ashes will be interred at the Santa Ifigenia cemetery in Santiago de Cuba on 4 December.
Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro led the tributes from world leaders after the announcement, which was greeted with shock in Havana and celebrations among expats in Miami.
Castro, the leader of the Cuban revolution embraced communism, defied the US for decades and lived in relative seclusion in his final years.
Al Jazeera reoports:
The leader of the 1959 revolution, which overthrew the US-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista, defied the US efforts to topple him for five decades, before ill health led him to make way for his brother Raul, 84, in 2006.
In his final years, Fidel lived in relative seclusion, but occasionally wrote opinion pieces or appeared meeting with visiting dignitaries.
Al Jazeera’s Latin America Editor Lucia Newman, reporting from Santiago in Chile, said Castro’s death hardly came as a surprise.
“He has been a larger-than-life figure who inspired a revolutionary movement all over the world, especially in Latin America,” she said.
“As time went by, we heard less and less from Fidel Castro. We all knew he had been ill for a decade and not been seen since August after his birthday, which was celebrated across the country.
“His death is going to have an enormous emotional impact on Cubans. It does really feel like the beginning of the end of the Castro era.”
Many Havana residents reacted with sadness to the news.
“I am very upset. Whatever you want to say, he is a public figure who was respected and loved,” Sariel Valdespino, a student, said.
In contrast, exiled Cubans in Florida celebrated his death in the streets of Miami’s Little Havana.
Videos posted on social media showed people opening bottles of champagne, honking their car horns and banging on pots and pans.
The US government spent more than $1bn trying to kill, undermine or otherwise force Castro from power, but he endured unscathed before old age and disease finally took him.
His supporters in Havana described him as a tireless defender of the poor.
Castro was “a giant of the Third World”, said Agustin Diaz Cartaya, 85, who joined Castro in the 1953 attack in eastern Cuba that launched the revolution.
“No one has done more for the Third World than Fidel Castro.”
In a letter published on his 90th birthday, Castro called for peace, saying that Russia and China should not be “subjected to threats of deploying nuclear weapons” and stressing that no world power had the right to kill millions of people.
“Mankind is faced today with the greatest danger in its history,” he wrote. “We must preserve peace around the world and must not let any world power believe it has the right to kill millions of human beings,” Castro wrote
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