A Hero and a Tyrant: Fidel Castro Dies at 90

By Allegra Simpkins

Cuban politician and revolutionary Fidel Castro, died Nov. 25 at the age of 90.
Born Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz, in the south eastern Oriente province of Cuba, “El Jefe” was the son of a wealthy Spanish farmer and proved himself to be a social-justice thorn in the side of most institutions he was involved with.

While studying law at the University of Havana, Castro was embroiled in student activism and developed a leftist, anti-imperialist vision politically, carrying those views with him throughout his ruling of Cuba from 1959-2008.

The U.S. considered Castro a defiant character, opposing his alignment with Soviet Russia during the Cold War as his instrumental role in the Cuban missile crisis brought the fear of a nuclear war to the global stage.

His actions proved troublesome for the United States government as he declared a communist revolution, turning Cuba into a socialist nation — a term that did not sit well with Americans just 90 miles away.

According to CNN, this drove the U.S. to spend almost $1 billion trying to kill and overthrow Castro while he withstood every attack planned against him. As he increased Cuba’s profile on the world stage he developed many defining characteristics, honorable or abhorrent depending on who you ask.

Those who opposed Castro’s ideologies consider him a tyrant, a communist dictator who drove his country into economic ruin. However, his supporters claim he was a dedicated politician, working toward equality and social justice for all Cubans.

In 2008, upon his retirement from politics, Fidel Castro announced his brother, Raul Castro, as his successor, giving him temporary power of the socialist state until 2010 when he was officially declared president.

Fidel Castro’s political legacy in Cuba, which he began at the age of 32, remained as his brother came into office and has remained since.

Some of the world’s most renowned leaders paid amiable tributes to their fallen colleague through social media.

Vladimir Putin, Russia’s current president, stated he was “reliable and (a) sincere friend,” while former U.S. president Jimmy Carter — who took several steps to normalize relations between the U.S. and Cuba — gave a statement saying he and his wife “share (their) sympathies with the Castro family and the Cuban people.”

A communist, a dictator, a hero and a tyrant. Fidel Castro was many things, and while his ashes are laid to rest in Santiago, the world will forever remember him at the very least, as a revolutionary who changed the lives of millions.