Controversial Cuban figure Fidel Castro dead at 90.
In this photo , Fidel Castro Ruz (der.) with Manuel Piñeiro alias “Barbarroja” (Red Beard).
Shortly after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, Fidel Castro met with a group of journalists on a visit to Mexico. We pressed him repeatedly about the fall of communism until, chafing in his olive fatigues and the Yucatán humidity, he stopped stroking his beard and pounded his fist. “Instead of asking me why communism failed in Russia,” Castro shouted, “why don’t you ask me why it hasn’t failed in Cuba?” The answer was simple: because communism had failed in Cuba. We’d seen the harrowing economic hardships crippling the island during that post-Soviet “special period.” Communism hadn’t survived in Cuba. Fidel had. His paternal charisma and paranoid security apparatus—an alloy that couldn’t be broken by 10 U.S. Presidents, one of whom Castro even took to the brink of nuclear war in 1962—stifled any urge Cubans may have had to tear down their own Berlin Wall during his 49-year-long dictatorship. Intestinal surgery forced him in 2006, at age 79, to hand Cuba’s presidency to his younger brother Raúl Castro, a transfer of power that became official in 2008. But even after, Fidel and his regime lingered, faded yet sun-baked into Cubans’ lives like the pastel colors on an old Havana mansion.
Fidel Castro died at age 90, his brother, President Raul Castro, announced on state television Friday night. For the moment, the world will wax nostalgic about the younger, 20th-century Fidel—the torrid icon who did perhaps more than any figure in human history to define The Revolutionary. He seared that picture into our own imaginations with his cigars, fatigues and beard, the hours-long speeches slinging Davidic defiance at his imperialista Goliath, the U.S. To millions of underdogs in the developing and developed worlds alike, Fidel—like his sidekick Ernesto “Che” Guevara, whose early battlefield death and rock-star portrait did so much to promote the rebel brand that Castro commanded—was a tropical avenger who stood up to superpower in the name of social justice.
But most of those admirers didn’t have to live under his rule. Read article here