Former Cuban Leader Fidel Castro has died

Fidel Castro, whose rise as a revolutionary made him the face of socialist rebellion for more than half a century, died Friday at age 90. His brother, Cuban president Raul Castro, made the announcement on Cuban state TV.

“Today, November 25, at 10:29 p.m., the Commander in Chief of the Cuban Revolution Fidel Castro Ruz passed away,” Raul Castro said in an address during the 11 o’clock news on Cuban TV. “In compliance with the expressed will of Companion Fidel, his remains will be cremated. In the early hours of Saturday 26, the funeral organizing committee will provide our people with detailed information on the organization of the posthumous Homage to the founder of the Cuban Revolution. Ever onward to victory!”

Castro rose to power as leader of a guerrilla army that overthrew Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista in 1959. He remained in office for almost 40 years, until health problems and intestinal surgery forced him to hand over control to his younger brother, Raul, in 2006. He officially resigned as president two years later.

His public appearances from then on were rare, but he was seen in the summer of 2010, looking frail, going on TV and addressing Parliament, warning about rising tensions between the U.S. and Iran.

He also was photographed in March 2012 meeting with Pope Benedict XVI during the pontiff’s visit to Cuba.

Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz was born Aug. 13, 1926, on his family’s sugar plantation. His father had come to Cuba from Spain as an immigrant laborer, but eventually became a landowner. Castro attended Catholic schools, and studied law at the University of Havana, where he became president of the University Students’ Federation.

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