The world is a better place, one less communist – Fidel Castro croaks

Fidel Castro, Prime Minister of Cuba, smokes a cigar during his meeting with two U.S. senators, the first to visit Castro's Cuba, in Havana, Cuba, Sept. 29, 1974. (AP Photo)

Fidel Castro, Prime Minister of Cuba, smokes a cigar during his meeting with two U.S. senators, the first to visit Castro’s Cuba, in Havana, Cuba, Sept. 29, 1974. (AP Photo)

Fidel Castro has died aged 90.

He can now go meet his mate, the terrorist Che Guevara, in hell.

Fidel Castro, the father of communist Cuba who led the country for nearly half a century, died Friday at the age of 90, Cuban state TV announced.

The revolutionary and former president retreated from the public eye in 2006 following emergency surgery for intestinal bleeding. His health problems forced him to temporarily hand power to his younger brother, defense minister Raul Castro, who permanently took his place as president in 2008.

Castro’s death follows a historic thawing of relations between Cuba and the United States with the announcement in mid-December that the countries planned to restore diplomatic and economic ties.

Six weeks after that announcement, Castro made his first comments about the deal, writing that he backs the negotiations even though he distrusts American politics.  

“I don’t trust the policy of the United States, nor have I exchanged a word with them, but this does not mean I reject a pacific solution to the conflicts,” he wrote in a letter to a student federation read at the University of Havana.

“We will always defend cooperation and friendship with all the people of the world, including with our political adversaries,” he wrote.

The elder Castro made his last public appearance in January, attending an art studio opening in Havana. He was photographed entering the studio hunched over and using a cane. Later that month, however, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon visited Castro and reported that then 87-year-old was “spiritually alert and physically very strong.”

Over the summer, Castro met with the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, as well as the Chinese president, Xi Jinping.

Since relinquishing power six years ago, Castro’s health had been the topic of intense speculation. On several occasions, media reported inaccurately that he was near death or had died. Once in 2012, Castro replied to the rumors himself in an article published on Cuba Debate, a state-run website, in which he boasted that he was not only alive, but didn’t “even remember what a headache is.”

Castro had defied death many times before, both as the revolutionary who led an armed uprising against dictator Fulgencio Batista, and as Batista’s communist successor who inspired a number of U.S.-backed assassination plots. Nine U.S. presidents came and went during Castro’s rule, which, like him, proved resilient, outlasting most other communist governments around the world.

For 49 years Castro ran Cuba, transforming what was once an American playground with striking social inequalities into a poor, isolated country with a notorious record on human rights. To some, he was a hero. Through a rigid system of socialized medicine, education and cultural facilities, Castro’s government elevated Cuba’s most impoverished citizens and reduced the sort of racial inequalities prevalent throughout the Americas. For challenging and insulting U.S. policies and presidents, he won the devotion of like-minded leaders, including the late Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez. In a 2004 speech slamming the U.S. war on terrorism, for example, Castro accused President George W. Bush of hypocrisy and fraud, while in 2011 he penned an op-ed in the Cuban press calling President Barack Obama “stupid.”

Two Commie killers together, Fidel Castro and Che Guevara

Two Commie killers together, Fidel Castro and Che Guevara

-NBC

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