Fidel Castro, the former Cuban president and revolutionary, has died. He was 90.
Castro’s younger brother and current Cuban president Raul Castro announced the news on state television on Friday night.
In a solemn and unexpected broadcast, Raul announced that Castro had died at 10:29 p.m. local time on Friday and his body would be cremated later on Saturday. A period of official mourning has been declared on the island nation until Dec. 4, when Castro’s ashes will be laid to rest in the city of Santiago.
Castro rose to power in 1959 when he and a small army of guerrillas overthrew Cuban dictator Fulgenico Batista. Castro was declared the prime minister of Cuba that same year, holding the position until 1976 when he became president. He remained Cuba’s leader until 2008, when he handed over power to his brother Raul.
Maintaining rule for nearly five decades, Castro was the longest serving non-royal leader of the 20th century and a fiercely controversial figure. After aligning with the Soviet Union following the Cuban revolution, Castro quickly became an enemy of the United States, which led to the CIA-sponsored Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961 and many other US-backed attempts on his life over the years.
After rising to power, Castro had many of his political opponents imprisoned or exiled and suppressed independent media and dissidents. Thousands of Cubans fled Castro’s dictatorship, many of whom settled in the United States.