Fidel Castro dies at 90 in Cuba

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Havana (AP) – Fidel Castro, who led his bearded rebels to victorious revolution in 1959, embraced Soviet-style communism and defied the power of 10 U.S. presidents during his half-century of rule in Cuba, has died at age 90.

In this March 1985 file photo, Cuba’s leader Fidel Castro exhales cigar smoke during an interview at the presidential palace in Havana, Cuba. (AP Photo/Charles Tasnadi, File)
In this March 1985 file photo, Cuba’s leader Fidel Castro exhales cigar smoke during an interview at the presidential palace in Havana, Cuba. (AP Photo/Charles Tasnadi, File)

With a shaking voice, President Raul Castro said on state television that his older brother died at 10:29 p.m. Friday. He ended the announcement by shouting the revolutionary slogan: “Toward victory, always!”

In the Cuban capital, flags flew at half-staff at public buildings and some foreign embassies across the city Saturday. By midday, the U.S. Embassy’s flag had not been lowered.

But the news cheered the community of Cuban exiles in Florida who had fled Castro’s government. Thousands gathered in the streets in Miami’s Little Havana to whoop, wave Cuban flags, and bang on pots with spoons. Cars honked horns, and police blocked off streets.

President-elect Donald Trump called Castro “a brutal dictator who oppressed his own people for nearly six decades.” He said he hoped the death would clear the way “toward a future in which the wonderful Cuban people finally live in the freedom they so richly deserve.”

He said his administration will do all it can to help Cubans “begin their journey toward prosperity and liberty.”

Fidel Castro Ruz was born Aug. 13, 1926, in eastern Cuba’s sugar country, where his Spanish immigrant father first worked recruiting labor for U.S. sugar companies and later built up a prosperous plantation of his own.

Cuba’s government announced that Castro’s ashes would be interred on Dec. 4 in the eastern city of Santiago that was a birthplace of his revolution.