Fidel Castro
Fidel Castro

castroFormer Cuban President Fidel Alexandro Castro Ruz died on Friday night. He was 90.

His death was announced on Cuban state TV by his brother, Raul, who succeeded him ten years ago as the country’s leader.

Cause of death was not disclosed but Castro had been in failing health with an intestinal ailment for several years.

A Jesuit-educated lawyer, Castro led the revolution that ousted the US-backed dictator  Fulgencio Batista on January 1, 1959.He then took control of Cuba and sought to transform it into an egalitarian society. He ruled Cuba for 49 years.

Under Castro’s leadership, Cuba developed one of the most accomplished health care, education and sports systems in the world.

Cuba has assisted many Caribbean countries through the granting of scholarship and technical assistance in the fields of medicine, health care, agronomy and sport.

While Castro’s supporters praised him as a champion of socialism, he was accused of brutally suppressing opposition in his country.

The Castro government imposed a one-party political system and hundreds of people were sent to jail and labour camps  and thousands of mainly middle class Cubans fled into exile.

In 1960, Castro nationalized all US-owned businesses on the island. In response ,Washington imposed a trade embargo against Cuba which is still in  effect.

Under Fidel, Raul was the head of Cuba’s armed forces and served as defence minister.