Fidel Castro has Died at Age 90, Brother Says

castroHAVANA (AP) —The Latest on the death of Cuban leader Fidel Castro(all times local):

8:04 a.m.

The death of Cuban leader Fidel Castro prompted celebrations among the country’s exiles in Miami, and expressions of sorrow from some world leaders.

Within half an hour of the Cuban government’s announcement Saturday of the death of the 90-year-old revolutionary leader, cheers were heard in Miami’s Little Havana. Thousands of people banged pots, waved Cuban flags and whooped in jubilation. “Cuba si! Castro no!” they chanted, while others screamed “Cuba libre!”

“Feels weird,” said Gabriel Morales, a 40-year-old financial executive in Miami, whose parents left Cuba after Castro came to power.

“Been waiting to hear this news all my life. Seems unreal,” Morales said in a text message to an AP reporter.

However, Castro was mourned by some present and former national leaders.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a telegram to Raul Castro: “Free and independent Cuba, which he (Fidel Castro) and his allies built, became an influential member of the international community and became an inspiring example for many countries and nations. Fidel Castro was a sincere and reliable friend of Russia.”

Salvador Sanchez Ceren, the president of El Salvador, said he felt “deep sorrow … of my friend and eternal companion, Commander Fidel Castro Ruz.”

Mexican president Enrique Pena Nieto tweeted that “Fidel Castro was a friend of Mexico, promoting bilateral relations based on respect, dialogue and solidarity.”

“India mourns the loss of a great friend,” Indian Prime Minister Nerendra Modi said on Twitter.

The country’s president, Pranab Mukherjee tweeted: “Heartfelt condolences on sad demise of Cuba’s revolutionary leader, former president & friend of India, Fidel Castro.”

Chinese President Xi Jinping said Castro “made immortal historical contributions to the development of socialism around the world.”

“With his death, the Chinese people have lost a close comrade and a sincere friend. His glorious image and great achievements will be recorded in history forever,” Xi said in a telegram to Raul Castro, state broadcaster CCTV said.

In a telegram to Raul Castro, Pope Francis offered “my sense of grief to your excellency and family.”

In a sign of his personal esteem, Francis signed the telegram, breaking from the Vatican’s usual practice of have the secretary of state send such messages. Francis met Castro during the papal visit to Cuba in September 2015.

Peter Hain, a former member of the British Cabinet and anti-apartheid campaigner, tempered praise for Castro with criticism of some aspects of his long rule.

“Although responsible for indefensible human rights and free-speech abuses, Castro created a society of unparalleled access to free health, education and equal opportunity despite an economically throttling USA siege,” Hain said. “His troops inflicted the first defeat on South Africa’s troops in Angola in 1988, a vital turning point in the struggle against apartheid.”

A statement from the Spanish government hailed Castro as “a figure of enormous historical importance.”

“As a son of Spaniards, former president Castro always maintained close relations with Spain and showed great affection for his family and cultural ties. For this reason Spain especially shares the grief of Cuba’s government and authorities,” the government statement said.

“Fidel Castro in the 20th century did everything possible to destroy the colonial system, to establish cooperative relations,” former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev was quoted as telling the Interfax news agency.”

Fidel survived and strengthened the country during the most severe U.S. blockade, while there was enormous pressure on him, and still led his country out of the blockade on the road of independent development.”

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro recalled Castro’s departure from Mexico on the yacht Granma with his brother Raul and several dozen supporters to start their revolution.

“Sixty years after the Granma sailed from Mexico, Fidel sails toward the immortality of all those who fight their whole lives,” Maduro tweeted. “Onward to victory, always!”

Bolivian President Evo Morales said on Twitter that Castro was “the leader who taught us to fight for the sovereignty of the state and the dignity of the peoples of the world.”

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras tweeted: “Goodbye, commandante. Until the peoples’ eternal victory.”

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5:20 a.m.

Cuba’s government says the remains of Fidel Castrowill be interred in the eastern city of Santiago that was key to his early life and his revolution.

State media say Cubans throughout the country will be invited to pay homage to Castro onMonday and Tuesday by signing a “solemn oath of complying with the concept of the revolution.”

There will then be a mass gathering in Havana’s Plaza of the Revolution, where Castrooften addressed huge crowds.

His ashes will make a cross-country tour starting Wednesday from Havana to Santiago, retracing in reverse the route Castrotook when the revolution triumphed in 1959.

He’s to be interred in a Santiago cemetery on Dec. 4. Castrogrew up near Santiago and attended school there as a youth.

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4:30 a.m.

While Fidel Castro’sfoes celebrate his death, his friends across Latin America mourn.

The leftist government of El Salvador is expressing “eternal gratitude” to Castroand the Cuban people for help “in the most difficult times.” That’s apparently a reference to Cuba’s support of the guerrilla bands battling a U.S. backed, military-dominated government in the 1980s.

The government statement issued Saturday says Castro’s“example will live forever in our struggles and will flower in the noble ideas of new generations.”

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4:15 a.m.

Cuban state television is carrying special programming celebrating the life of deceased former leader Fidel Castro.

The programming includes footage from years past of Castrogiving speeches on revolutionary struggle.

Castro stepped down from the presidency provisionally in 2006 due to a severe illness, and left office permanently two years later.

He was succeeded by his younger brother Raul, who announced Fidel’s death on state TV.

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4:00 a.m.

Within half an hour of the Cuban government’s official announcement that former President Fidel Castro had died, Miami’s Little Havana teemed with life — and cheers.

Thousands of people banged pots, waved Cuban flags and whooped in jubilation on Calle Ocho, the heart of the Cuban exile community in Florida. Honking and strains of salsa music from car stereos echoed against stucco buildings, and fireworks lit up the humid night sky.

Police blocked off streets leading to Cafe Versailles, the quintessential Cuban American hotspot where strong Cuban coffee was as common as a harsh words about Fidel Castro.

Castro has cast a shadow over Miami for decades, and in many ways, his policy and his power have shaped the city and its inhabitants, many of whom fled from his socialist rule.

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3:00 a.m.

His tiny island nation 90 miles from Florida brought the world to the brink of nuclear war and he defied the power of 10 U.S. presidents during his half century rule. Former Cuban President Fidel Castrohas died. He was 90.

With a shaking voice, President Raul Castrosaid on state television that his older brother died at 10:29 p.m. Friday. He ended the announcement by shouting the revolutionary slogan: “Towards victory, always!”

Castro, who led a rebel army to improbable victory in Cuba and embraced Soviet-style communism, had a reign marked by the failed, U.S.-backed Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961 and the Cuban Missile Crisis a year later that brought the world to the brink of nuclear war. The bearded revolutionary survived a crippling U.S. trade embargo as well as dozens, possibly hundreds, of assassination plots.

He survived long enough to see Raul Castronegotiate an agreement with U.S. President Barack Obama to move to restore diplomatic ties for the first time since they were severed in 1961.

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