Former Cuban president and revolutionary leader Fidel Castro has died at age-90. Castro died on November 25, but His death was announced shortly after mid-night on Saturday November 26 by his brother and current Cuban President Raul Castro.

The announcement of Fidel Castro’s death sparked spontaneous celebration among the community of Cuban exiles in Miami. People gathered in the streets singing and chanting, and there were even fireworks. Men and women, young and old were seen and heard in televised images hailing the death of Castro, One woman who said she lost her father in an incident with Cuban Revolutionary guards in 1960, shortly after Castro led the Revolution against Fulgencio Batista, said she has been praying for Castro’s death since then.

Castro’s revolutionary forces overthrew Batista’s regime on January 1 1959. The revolution was then cheered by the Cuban people. When he arrived in Havana later that day Fidel was greeted as a hero.

However, as the months passed and he began imposing his communist policies, ended American domination, forged closer ties with Russia and the Soviet Union,  nationalized large and small businesses and land holdings, and became less tolerant to opposition, the money-class of the country grew weary of him. Many began fleeing the country to settle in Miami. Migration to Miami increased steadily especially when Castro banned free elections in the island, and increased preauction of dissidents.

His warm relationship with the Soviet Union angered the US administration, and in April 1961 then US President John F. Kennedy supported by the CIA and Cuban exiles in Miami tried to overthrow the Castro regime in what has come to be known as “The Bay of Pigs Invasion” but the attempted coup was a major failure.

For thirteen days in October 1962 the world came close to a nuclear war between the USA and the Soviet Union when President Kennedy stood up to Soviet Union leader Nikita Khrushchev who attempted to build Soviet missiles in Cuba. The crisis was averted at the very last moment when Khrushchev made an agreement with Kennedy to back off his plans to install he missiles in Cuba.

Castro would survive Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Herbert W. Bush, Clinton, and George W. Bush. During these presidencies, the chilled atmosphere with Castro continued, and The US maintained a strict trade embargo against Cuba, resulting in severe hardship among the Cuban people. These hardships worsened since the early 1990s with the fall of the Soviet Union.

In the early 1980’s, a period characterized by housing and job shortages, without Castro making attempts to ease his policies more Cubans left the island, many in make shift boats. In April 1980 in what was known as “The Mariel Boat Lift” Castro   announced that all Cubans wishing to emigrate to the U.S. were free to board boats at the port of Mariel west of Havana. He also freed hundreds of prisoners and allowed them to leave the country, . The first of 125,000 Cuban refugees from Mariel reached Miami the next day, creating a crisis for the government in Florida and the US. However, gradually the refugees assimilated into the Miami population, but given South Florida, especially Miami-Dade County a distinct Cuban characteristic.

Michael Manley and Fidel Castro on a state visit to Jamaica.
Michael Manley and Fidel Castro on a state visit to Jamaica.

In February 2008, after two years of illness, Castro formally announced his retirement as President of Cuba. His brother Raul was install as his successor and leader of the Cuban Communist Party.

In December 2014 US President Barack Obama announced plans to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba, and restore some normalcy in travel and other arrangements between the two countries. Earlier this years the two countries reopened embassies in each country and President Obama made an official visit to Cuba.

It has been reported that there will be nine days of mourning in Cuba beginning today, November 26, and Fidel Castro will be given an official funeral on December 4.



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