el comandante supremo

Fidel Castro is dead at age 90

Fidel Castro is dead.

The obituary that U.S. newspapers first wrote for him twenty years ago—and then updated regularly every four or five months since then— was finally published tonight.

Though Castro’s death has been rumored countless times over the decades, this time it’s for real. It was announced on Cuban state television Friday night at 10:29 PM by his younger brother and successor, President Raul Castro.

Fidel was 90.

The iconic, bearded revolutionary is indisputably one of the biggest figures from modern history. Few people have shaped global politics and international relations more than the bespectacled firebrand who dressed in olive drab. Not only was he the Father of the Cuban Revolution, but also the Grandfather of all Latin American revolutions that came after it.

Che was the t-shirt, but Fidel was the heart and mind of the great revolutionary movements that shook the hemisphere for the past 57 years, from Nicaragua to Venezuela. He was the patriarch of tropical socialism. An enduring figure who outlasted 11 U.S. presidents. A man who inspired equal measures of love and hate. A leader who firmly believes that history will absolve him.

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Fidel turned over power to his brother in 2008, and watched from the sidelines as Raul started a new era of economic reforms and re-engagement with the United States. Fidel’s slow fade gave Cubans time to get used to the idea of a future without “El Comandante.”

At first it wasn’t clear if Fidel was still pulling the strings behind the scenes, but he remained critical of the Obama government, even as Raul got increasingly cozy with the White House. Fidel criticized Obama after the U.S. president’s historic visit to Cuba last March, and as recently as August wrote “We don’t need the empire to give us anything.”

Love him or hate him, Fidel will always be remembered as the larger-than-life figure who defied the United States for six decades. He was the man who poked Uncle Sam in the eye repeatedly, and lived to talk about until the age of 90. He was the mouse that roared.

And now he’s dead.

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