Fidel Castro is Dead

(FILES) Cuban President Fidel Castro speaks during the May Day ceremony in Havana 01 May 2006. Fidel Castro resigned on February 19, 2008 as president and commander in chief of Cuba in a message published in the online version of the official daily Granma. AFP PHOTO/Adalberto ROQUE (Photo credit should read ADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images)

Fidel Castro (Courtesy: AFP/Getty Images)

The death of Fidel Castro triggered both celebration and mourning as critics welcomed his passing while supporters grieved for the polarizing strongman who dominated Cuba for decades.

Castro died Friday at 90.

His brother Raul Castro announced his death in a televised statement.

“I say to the people of Cuba, with profound pain I come here to inform our people, our friends of America and the world, that today, 25 November, 2016, at 10:29 pm, died the chief commander of the Cuban revolution, Fidel Castro Ruz,” he said.

He was to be cremated early Saturday “following the explicit desires of leader Fidel,” Raul Castro said.

His funeral will be held December 4.

Havana quiet as news slowly spreads

The streets of Havana were quiet overnight into Saturday, with some Cubans unaware of Castro’s death until CNN asked them for their reaction.

Their mood seemed downcast, with some shedding tears and many others appearing preoccupied by what might come next.

 

 

Jubilation in Miami

But to the north in Florida, revelers spilled into the streets of Miami, the center of the Cuban exile community. They popped champagne, clanged pots, cheered and waved the Cuban flag in jubilation. They stood outside the popular Versailles restaurant in Little Havana with signs reading, “Satan, Fidel is now yours.”

“This is a celebration, but not a celebration of death, but a beginning of liberty that we’ve been waiting for many years. The hope is … that it opens up Cuba a little bit more,” a Cuban-American man said.

“It means a lot for us Cubans,” another reveler told CNN affiliate WSVN-TV. “It’s a moment that we’ve been waiting for 55 years. We’re free at last. The man that caused so much suffering, so much people to be sad in my country … has passed away.”

Castro reigned in Havana for nearly five decades with an iron hand, defying a US economic embargo intended to dislodge him.

But he lived long enough to see a historic thaw between Cuba and the United States. The two nations re-established diplomatic relations in July, and President Barack Obama visited the island this year.

Obama extended “a hand of friendship to the Cuban people” as he offered his condolences to Castro’s family in a statement Saturday.

“We know that this moment fills Cubans — in Cuba and in the United States — with powerful emotions, recalling the countless ways in which Fidel Castro altered the course of individual lives, families, and of the Cuban nation,” he said.

“History will record and judge the enormous impact of this singular figure on the people and world around him.”