Fidel Castro, the Cuban revolutionary leader who built a communist state on the doorstep of the United States and for five decades defied U.S. efforts to topple him, died on Friday. He was 90.
Castro had turned over the reins to his younger brother Raul, who became President in 2008. He made very few public appearances after stepping down. He was reportedly battling Diverticulitis a swelling of the colon at the time of his death.
Hailed by supporters as a hero who fought for socialist ideals by standing up to the U.S. and the world’s other political giants, Castro was seen by critics as a ruthless dictator guilty of subjecting his people to countless human rights abuses, devastating Cuba’s economy and forcing more than a million Cubans to flee the island.
After being sworn in as prime minister, Castro began a series of reforms, many designed to end US economic power on the island. Relations between the two countries frayed and when Castro visited the US later that year, President Dwight Eisenhower refused to meet with him.
At the same time, Castro’s government began to establish relations with the Soviet Union. In April 1961 Castro formally declared Cuba a socialist state just days before the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion that saw 1,400 Cuban exiles trained by the CIA unsuccessfully attempt to invade and topple his government. (Fox News)