The health of the communist leader was described as being a “topic of intense speculation” since he first disappeared from the public spotlight in 2006. While Fidel Castro’s cause of death remains unclear, Heavy has featured reports of discussion of Castro potentially suffering from diverticulitis, a condition that results in “inflamed and infected” pouches in the wall of the colon.
The former president is expected to be cremated early Saturday after passing away at about 7 p.m. local time Friday.
Last December, Cuba and the United States announced historic plans to “restore diplomatic and economic ties.”
After 2008, Fidel Castro turned ruling authority of the island nation over to his younger brother, current President Raul Castro.
“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,” a letter written by Castro was quoted by NBC following the beginning of talks with U.S. officials. “We will always defend cooperation and friendship with all the people of the world, including with our political adversaries.”
Fidel Castro’s final public appearance was made in January, where he was said to have presided over the opening of an art studio.
In August, the Inquisitr reported on crowds of thousands of Cubans who gathered to celebrate the former leader’s 90th birthday.
In an op-ed, Fidel Castro described his “profound gratitude” for the “greetings and gifts” the Cuban people had bestowed upon their former president for his birthday.
“We don’t need the empire to give us anything,” Castro was quoted following the celebrations with regard to the United States.
U.S. President Barack Obama visited Cuba in March, which was described as a “giant step” forward in the process of normalizing relations between the two nations. During the visit he attended a baseball game with President Raul Castro, who was said to have started the process of loosening the “government’s grip” on the economy, including allowing citizens to travel outside of Cuba, and the introduction of consumers goods like cell phones, imported cars, and computers, when he took power in 2008.
Fidel Castro spent several years in the 1950s as a prisoner of the Fulgencio Batista Cuban dictatorship before being released under an amnesty agreement in 1955. He then partnered with Argentine Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara to wage and win a guerrilla and was sworn in as Cuban prime minister in 1959.
“Within two years of taking power, he declared the revolution to be Marxist-Leninist in nature and allied the island nation firmly to the Soviet Union,” the BBC writes with regard to Castro’s rise to power.
The partnership with the former Soviet Union did not go unnoticed. Former Cubans backed by the Central Intelligence Agency invaded the Bay of Pigs in 1961, which Castro was able to successfully repel. The former Cuban leader also brought the Latin nation to the edge of nuclear war with the United States in 1962 after making an agreement that would have allowed the Soviet Union to station nuclear warheads on the island.
NBC noted that nine U.S. presidents served during Fidel Castro’s reign, and that his particular brand of communism outlasted many others, perhaps most notably the type practiced in the Soviet Union.
An enigma, through state-run cultural, healthcare, and education programs, the former president was described as elevating “Cuba’s most impoverished citizens,” while also being called a “brutal dictator,” responsible for the isolation of HIV-positive patients, and the imprisonment of homosexuals and political dissidents.
In 2010, Fidel Castro stated that Cuban communism “doesn’t even work for us anymore” and expressed regret over his regime’s policies with regard to homosexuals.
Eighty-five-year-old Raul Castro is reported to be eschewing a third term in office, leaving the leadership of the country uncertain in 2018 and beyond.
[Featured Image by Jorge Rey/Getty Images]