11/26/2016, 11.38
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Fidel Castro, father of the Cuban revolution, has died

His body will be cremated today. He led the island for 50 years. In 2008 he passed the presidency to his brother Raul. He attempted to export the Marxist revolution to Latin America and Africa. Some economic and social achievements at home, along with a heavy oppression of human rights. The disappearance of myth after the fall of the USSR. The Catholic Church and the Popes, catalysts of a transformation on the island nation.

Havana (AsiaNews) - Fidel Castro, former president and leader of the Cuban revolution, died last night at the age of 90. His death was announced by his brother Raul, the current president of the island, who added that the remains of the "lider maximo" will be cremated later today.

Fidel ruled Cuba with an iron fist for 50 years. In 2008, after an illness, he passed on the reins of power to his brother Raul.

Born into a family of landowners of Spanish origin, in 11953 Castro began fighting the Fulgencio Batista dictatorship. In 1959, with a small army of rebels, he took power.

The United States was the first country to recognize the new government. But in 1960 the Socialists tones of the new leader began to provoke US hostility. In 1961 the Bay of Pigs invasion,  anti-Castro military operation, ended in failure. Looking for allies and support, Castro sided with the USSR and declared his a "Marxist-Leninist" revolution.

In 1962 he allowed the USSR to deploy nuclear missiles on the island, bringing the world close to a third world war, defused thanks to the intervention of John XXIII.

Eager to "export the revolution", he offered up Cuba for guerrilla training and sent his troops into Latin America and Africa to support the Marxist revolts, with some success only in Nicaragua.

At home, he won the fight against illiteracy and guaranteed healthcare for all inhabitants of the island, but at the same time he stamped out - even with violence, torture and the death penalty - tens of thousands of his political opponents, gagged the media , and took total control of the populations life. Although Castro was educated by Jesuits and always estimated the figure of Jesus, the Church was seen as an enemy of the revolution: many priests were killed; Catholic schools nationalized.

Thanks to a mixture of anti-Americanism, inflamed rhetoric, the promise of land distribution to peasants, the gigantic production of sugar cane, Fidel was hailed by many intellectuals and left-wing world leaders who glanced over the violations to human rights, freedom religious and even to homosexuals, interred as inmates in prison camps where they were "cured."

The aura of success that surrounds the "lider maximo" began to wane in 1991 when the USSR collapsed and with it the enormous economic aid that kept Cuba afloat, also weakened by an United States embargo. Even today the island is marked by poverty lack of transport, food, homes, with simple goods such as soap, books and clothes sold at exorbitant prices.

In 2008 Fidel handed the presidency to his brother Raul. And despite some easing the US embargo and some economic reform (including opening up to international tourism), Cubans are forced to live on less than $ 20 per month.

According to many analysts, Raul – following the China and Vietnam model - he is slowly turning the Marxist legacy of Fidel opening up to the private market and the international community.

The influence of the Church and the popes also played a large part in this transformation. In 1998 Pope John Paul II visited Cuba, a declared atheist regime, wishing that "Cuba open to the world and the world open itself to Cuba." In 2012 it was the turn of Benedict XVI, who called for eliminating "immovable positions and unilateral viewpoints which tend to make understanding more difficult and collaboration ineffective”.

Finally, the visit of Pope Francis in 2015, and his hope to build "bridges" between Cuba and the international community and especially the United States. A year earlier, thanks to the good offices of the nunciature in Washington and Havana, there was an easing of sanctions against the island and a mutual promise to work for diplomatic relations.

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