Fidel Castro has died at the age of 90, his brother, Cuban President Raul Castro, has announced in an unexpected late night broadcast on state TV.
Raul Castro said: “The commander in chief of the Cuban revolution died at 22:29 hours this evening.”
Fidel Castro was Cuba’s former president and leader of the Communist revolution.
He ruled the country as one-party state for almost 50 years before Raul Castro took over in 2008.
Rau Castro’s supporters said he had given Cuba back to the people. But he was also accused of suppressing opposition.
There would now be several days of national mourning in Cuba.
Throughout the Cold War, Fidel Castro was Washington’s bête noire.
An accomplished tactician on the battlefield, Fidel Castro and his small army of guerrillas overthrew the military leader Fulgencio Batista in 1959 to widespread popular support.
Within two years of taking power, Fidel Castro declared the revolution to be Marxist-Leninist in nature and allied Cuba firmly to the Soviet Union.
Yet, despite the constant threat of a US invasion as well as the long-standing economic embargo on Cuba, Fidel Castro managed to maintain a communist revolution in a nation just 90 miles off the coast of Florida.
Despised by his critics as much as he was revered by his followers, Fidel Castro outlasted ten US presidents and defied scores of attempts on his life by the CIA.
In April 2016, Fidel Castro gave a rare speech on the final day of Cuba’s Communist Party congress.
He acknowledged his advanced age but said Cuban communist concepts were still valid and the Cuban people “will be victorious”.
“I’ll soon be 90,” he said, adding that this was “something I’d never imagined”.
“Soon I’ll be like all the others, to all our turn must come,” Fidel Castro said.
Fidel Castro temporarily handed over the power to his brother in 2006 as he was recovering from an acute intestinal ailment.
Raul Castro officially became Cuba’s president in 2008.