Cuban dictator Fidel Castro dies at age 90

By Sarah Pawlowski
Staff Writer

Cuban revolutionary and dictator Fidel Castro passed away on Friday, Nov. 25, at the age of 90.

His brother, Raúl, reported his death to the Cuban people on the morning of Saturday, Nov. 26.

“With profound pain I come here to inform our people, our friends of America and the world, that today — 25 Nov., 2016, at 10:29 p.m. — died the chief commander of the Cuban revolution, Fidel Castro Ruz,” Raúl Castro said.

The Cuban government declared a nine-day period of mourning after the news of Castro’s death broke, calling the period “Duelo Nacional,” which translates to “national mourning,” according to The New York Times. The same news source reported that flags will be flown at half-staff and public activities will be suspended during this time.

Those who benefitted from Castro’s early political reforms are mourning his death while those who were born into the period of Castro’s later, more restrictive rule do not share the same allegiance to him, according to The New York Times. The same news outlet reported that Castro appealed greatly to the lower, laboring classes in Cuba by promising them better working conditions.

Castro was also responsible for giving property to poorer citizens and decreasing unemployment through government spending, according to the The New York Times. Despite his popular social programs, Castro lost favor among his people through the Cuban Missile Crisis and United States embargo, The New York Times reported. The same news source reported that as Castro struggled to keep the island nation from American influence, his policies turned authoritarian.

A plethora of world leaders have released statements in response to Castro’s death. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wrote on his official website that Castro held “tremendous dedication and love for the Cuban people” and Castro was a “remarkable leader.”

Despite America’s historically tense relations with Cuba, President Barack Obama offered his condolences in the wake of Castro’s death, according to USA Today.

“Today, we offer condolences to Fidel Castro’s family, and our thoughts and prayers are with the Cuban people,” Obama said. “For nearly six decades, the relationship between the U.S. and Cuba was marked by discord and profound political disagreements. During my presidency, we have worked hard to put the past behind us, pursuing a future in which the relationship between our two countries is defined not by our differences but by the many things that we share as neighbors and friends.”

There was a two-day memorial ceremony held for Castro on Monday, Nov. 28, and Tuesday, Nov. 29, in Cuba’s Plaza de la Revolución, according to The New York Times. A public memorial mass in Havana occurred at the Jose Marti Revolution Square on Tuesday evening, CNN reported. Castro’s remains were cremated and transported on the reverse route Castro used when taking control of the island in 1959, according to CNN.