August 13, 1926 - November 25, 2016
Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz, former Prime Minister and President of Cuba, died on November 25, 2016 at the age of 90. Fidel Castro became Cuba’s leader in 1959 by successfully overthrowing President Fulgencio Batista by the way of guerrilla warfare. Castro’s relations with the Soviet Union and communist domestic policies were met with strong opposition from the United States which ultimately lead to the failed Bay of Pigs Invasion in 1961. While severely eroding civil liberties in Cuba, Castro managed to instigate and perpetuate warfare in other countries; contributing to the Cold War by sparking the Cuban Missile Crisis in aid of the Soviet Union and supporting Marxist governments in Nicaragua, Grenada, and Chile, always at the expense of Cuba’s economic growth and potential prosperity. His dictatorship ultimately lasted until Castro’s health started to decline in 2006. His brother, Raúl Castro, was formally named president in 2008.
In the words of Cuban American Florida Senator Marco Rubio, “Fidel Castro seized power promising to bring freedom and prosperity to Cuba, but his communist regime turned it into an impoverished island prison. Over six decades, millions of Cubans were forced to flee their own country, and those accused of opposing the regime were routinely jailed and even killed. Sadly, Fidel Castro’s death does not mean freedom for the Cuban people or justice for the democratic activists, religious leaders, and political opponents he and his brother have jailed and persecuted. The dictator has died, but the dictatorship has not. And one thing is clear, history will not absolve Fidel Castro; it will remember him as an evil, murderous dictator who inflicted misery and suffering on his own people. The future of Cuba ultimately remains in the hands of the Cuban people, and now more than ever Congress and the new administration must stand with them against their brutal rulers and support their struggle for freedom and basic human rights.”