>> An iconic revolutionary gone, the death of Fidel Castro announced on State TV by his younger brother and Cuban President, Raul Castro Saturday. Fidel Castro built a communist state on the doorstep of the United States, and ruled the country as a one party state for nearly half a century, before handing over power in 2008 to his brother after an intestinal ailment nearly killed him.
He ruled Cuba with a mix of charisma and iron will and was a central figure in the Cold War demonize by the United States and its allies but admired by many leftists around the world. He fended off a CIA backed invasion at the Bay of Pigs in 1961, as well as countless assassination attempts.
His alliance with Moscow helped trigger the Cuban missile crisis the following year, in a showdown with the US that brought the world the closest it has been to nuclear war. At home, he won support for bringing schools and hospitals to the poor, but also created enemies and critics concentrated among exiles in Miami, who fled his rule and saw him as a tyrant.
But it was his brother Raul who introduced market style economic reforms, and agreeing with the US to reestablish diplomatic ties. Fidel Castro offered only lukewarm support for the deal. Fidel Castro was 90 years old.