Cuba has announced nine days of mourning after the passing of Fidel Castro. The statement was made by Raul Castro, the younger brother and successor of Fidel Castro. On government-controlled television, Raul Castro read a brief statement that revealed the time of death of the former leader. He said:
“The commander in chief of the Cuban revolution died at 22:29 [EST] this evening.”
Mr. Castro did not disclose the cause of death of the former First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba. However, Raul Castro did say that the Cuban politician will be cremated for that was his wish. It has been confirmed by the Cuban officials, that on Wednesday, Castro’s ashes will begin a three-day trip from Sierra Maestra mountains to the capital, Havana.
Castro, who celebrated his 90th birthday in August, had been absent from the public scene from 2014 to 2015 due to illness. The communist leader, who governed more than 60 years, had been battling several health issues related to his age.
The former president and prime minister of Cuba died just two years after the historic executive order signed by President Barack Obama that normalized relations between Cuba and U.S. Two statements, one by Donald Trump and the other from Obama, showed how much the men have different opinions on Castro’s legacy. Mr. Trump tweeted:
“Fidel Castro is dead!”
President Obama stated:
“We know that this moment fills Cubans — in Cuba and in the United States — with powerful emotions, recalling the countless ways in which Fidel Castro altered the course of individual lives, families, and of the Cuban nation. History will record and judge the enormous impact of this singular figure on the people and world around him.”
While many took to the streets of Havana to shed tears for the deceased leader, Cuban-Americans in Florida were celebrating. Many see the death of Castro and the rise of Trump to the White House as hope for the future of Cuba. A man in Miami said:
“Fidel, take your little brother with you!”
Yolanda Valdes cried as she spoke to reporters. The teacher shared:
“I think of his bravery. His honesty. I’ve been committed to him all my life. I adored him.”
According to The New York Times, “[Fidel] held on to power longer than any other living national leader excluding Queen Elizabeth II.” Indeed, Fidel Castro, who fought against the “American imperialism” all his life, saw 11 American presidents take power, survived over 600 assassination attempts, was involved in the Cold War and the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. He was also known for countless violations of human rights, his love of women and fine cigars.
Castro leaves a complicated legacy behind marked by successes in education and healthcare in his country. He also helped neighboring countries like Haiti and took a stance against apartheid in South Africa. However, all of this was tarnished by the oppressive and brutal nature of his regime and a lack of freedom for the Cubans.