Twitter reaction pours in on death of Fidel Castro

Fidel Castro dead

Fidel Castro death reaction

Fidel Castro is dead. And most of the world is celebrating.

Here are some of the best tweets so far: details Castro’s life and reign as dictator of Cuba.

Castro, who was the only leader most of his countrymen ever knew, outlasted 11 US presidents since he first took power in 1959.

Castro had been in declining health for years – he continued to spew his anti-American tirades almost until the end.

In October, 2014, Castro reprinted a New York Times editorial in state-run media that argued that the U.S. embargo on Cuba should end. The editorial ran almost verbatim, omitting one line about Cuba’s release of political prisoners.

In 2012 he wrote an opinion piece for a state-run media outlet in which he branded the Republican presidential primary race “the greatest competition of idiocy and ignorance” the world has ever seen.

And just to show how much his volatile presence lingered in American politics, despite officially handing over power to his brother Raul in 2008, Castro also was the subject of a question during a Republican candidates’ debate in Tampa, Fla. that same month.

When Mitt Romney was asked the first thing he would do as president if he found out Castro was dead, he replied, “Well first of all, you thank heavens that Fidel Castro has returned to his maker and will be sent to another land.”

When it was his turn to answer, Newt Gingrich said, “I don’t think that Fidel is going to meet his maker. I think he’s going to go to the other place.”

The lawyer, revolutionary and political leader who triggered such visceral reactions was born August 13, 1926 out of wedlock to a Cuban sugar plantation owner and a servant in his home (they eventually married). He was not formally recognized by his father until he was 17, when his surname was changed to Castro from Ruz, his mother’s name.

Though he spent the better part of his life railing against capitalism and the rich, Castro enjoyed a wealthy and privileged childhood.

He attended Jesuit boarding schools, and developed a love for sports, pitching for El Colegio de Belen’s baseball team. He attended the University of Havana law school, where he joined groups that focused on Cuban nationalism and socialism.

After graduation and now a revolutionary, he took up arms against the government of President Fulgencio Batista, leading a failed 1953 attack on a military barracks in hopes of triggering a popular revolt.

Instead he was captured and at his trial, where he led his own defense, famously predicted “history will absolve me.”

After spending time in prison, Castro went into exile in Mexico, where he met Ernesto “Che” Guevara, who became his confidante.

Castro established another guerrilla force and after several years of fighting, eventually defeated Batista in 1959, taking control of Cuba at the age of 32.

After being sworn in as prime minister, Castro began a series of reforms, many designed to end US economic power on the island. Relations between the two countries frayed and when Castro visited the US later that year, President Dwight Eisenhower refused to meet with him.

At the same time, Castro’s government began to establish relations with the Soviet Union. In April 1961 Castro formally declared Cuba a socialist state just days before the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion that saw 1,400 Cuban exiles trained by the CIA unsuccessfully attempt to invade and topple his government.

Castro intensified relations with the Soviet Union and in 1962 US reconnaissance planes discovered Soviet missiles on their way to Cuban sites, precipitating a tense standoff between President John F. Kennedy and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev.

But in the 1980s, Russia stopped taking Cuban sugar, causing widespread economic deprivation that resulted in thousands of Cubans trying to flee to the US by sea.

Castro often spoke with resentment and disgust of the Cubans who left the island because of his government, particularly those who went into exile in the United States.

He called Cuban exiles “guzanos,” the Spanish word for “worms,” and complained about the Miami Mafia that always sought his ouster.

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