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Summary

  1. Fidel Castro, Cuba's former president and leader of the Communist revolution, has died
  2. Castro ruled Cuba as a one-party state for almost half a century from 1959
  3. He stood down as president in 2008, having handed over power to brother Raul two years earlier due to health reasons
  4. His ashes will be laid to rest on 4 December
  5. US President Obama, who restored diplomatic relations with Cuba, said 'history will judge his impact'
  6. World leaders paid tributes to Castro on 26 November, while US President-elect Trump called him a 'brutal dictator'

Live Reporting

By Hugo Bachega, Vanessa Buschschluter and Heather Sharp

All times stated are UK

End of our coverage

We are wrapping up our live coverage following the death of former Cuban President Fidel Castro.

How the US tried to get rid of Fidel Castro

Throughout the Cold War, Fidel Castro was a thorn in Washington's side. 

The CIA tried to assassinate him, most infamously with Operation Mongoose. Getting him to smoke a cigar packed with explosives was one idea.  

Others were even more bizarre, including one to make his beard fall out and make him into a figure to be ridiculed.  

In all, there were 638 assassination attempts, according to the Cuban secret service. But Castro managed to survive them all.

Here, Dr Stefan Halper, who served in the Nixon, Ford and Reagan administrations, tells the BBC how the US tried - and failed - to unseat him.

How Castro's death played on social media

Fidel Castro's death drew a fierce reaction online from those who loved and loathed him.

It is hard, however, to get a sense of what users living in Cuba think, as internet use is extremely restricted there.

But Havana-based journalist Yoani Sanchez managed to share a local perspective. Writing in Spanish, she said ordinary Cubans were showing "indifference" to Castro's death.

"Some are fired with pain, others with relief... the vast majority with a touch of indifference," Ms Sanchez tweeted.

Adding her own view, she said Castro's legacy was "a country in ruin, a nation where young people do not want [to] live".

But Castro was a polarising figure not only in Cuba, and users around the world took to Twitter to share their views.

A tweet grieving Castro from the Communist Party of Australia
Twitter
Tweet from Reporters Without Borders
Twitter

Read more on how users reacted here.

The view from Florida

Florida, where many Cubans fled after the Cuban Revolution, is a hotbed of anti-Castro sentiment.

There were celebrations in Miami following the news of Fidel Castro's death. People honked their car horns and set off fireworks. There were also shouts of "Cuba si! Castro no!'' and "Libertad!" (Freedom). 

Harsh words came from Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio, a Cuban-American. He said Fidel Castro turned Cuba "into an impoverished island prison".

He described the former Cuban leader as an "evil, murderous dictator.

The speaker of the House of Representatives Paul Ryan, also a Republican, said: "Now that Fidel Castro is dead, the cruelty and oppression of his regime should die with him."

"Today let us reflect on the memory and sacrifices of all those who have suffered under the Castros." 

n this photo taken Aug. 30, 2016, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. speaks at a primary election party in Kissimmee, Fla
AP
Senator Marco Rubio is vociferous opponents of the Castros

What next for US-Cuba relations?

American flag flies next to a Cuban flag near El Capitolio in Old Havana on 20 March 2016
Getty

Donald Trump's election as US president has put a question mark on Barack Obama's push to restore relations with the country, including plans to lift a decades-long embargo on the island, announced in 2014.

Mr Obama visited Havana earlier this year in a visit that marked a new chapter in US-Cuba relations. Embassies opened in Havana and Washington DC, and some business deals have already been announced.

But many are now wondering if the newly opened ties will hold.  

The trade embargo can only be lifted by the US Congress, and Republicans, who will control both the Senate and the House of Representatives, have expressed their opposition to its removal.

And Mr Trump had promised anti-Castro Republicans that he would roll back on Mr Obama's detente, would keep the embargo on the island firmly in place and would even close the recently reopened US embassy in Havana.

However, it is still unclear if this was just campaign rhetoric.

In a statement after Fidel Castro's death, Mr Trump said: "Our administration will do all it can to ensure the Cuban people can finally begin their journey toward prosperity and liberty."

Mr Obama called his government's steps towards Cuba  "irreversible". But many are based on executive orders and, when president, Mr Trump could repeal them.

Cuban state media opt for uplifting message

State-run newspaper Granma does not mention the death of Fidel Castro in its headline. It simply shows the revolutionary slogan "Onwards to victory, always" and a picture of Fidel Castro waving a Cuban flag.

Front page of state-run Cuban newspaper Granma
Granma

Obama: 'We worked hard to put the past behind us'

President Barack Obama's government will certainly be remembered as a game-changer on US-Cuba relations. 

In 2014, he announced that the two countries would restore diplomatic relations after a decades-long break-up and a trade embargo imposed by the US.

The embargo, however, can only be lifted by the US Congress, and Republicans have expressed opposition to the plan.

Earlier this year, he made history as the first sitting US president to visit the island since the 1959 revolution. He visited the president Raul but not his brother, Fidel.

Here's Barack Obama's full statement on Castro's death.

Statement from US President Barack Obama on the death of Fidel Castro: At this time of Fidel Castro’s passing, we extend a hand of friendship to the Cuban people. 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. History will record and judge the enormous impact of this singular figure on the people and world around him. For nearly six decades, the relationship between the United States and Cuba was marked by discord and profound political disagreements. During my presidency, we have worked hard to put the past behind us, pursuing a future in which the relationship between our two countries is defined not by our differences but by the many things that we share as neighbors and friends - bonds of family, culture, commerce, and common humanity. This engagement includes the contributions of Cuban Americans, who have done so much for our country and who care deeply about their loved ones in Cuba. Today, we offer condolences to Fidel Castro's family, and our thoughts and prayers are with the Cuban people. In the days ahead, they will recall the past and also look to the future. As they do, the Cuban people must know that they have a friend and partner in the United States of America.
White House

BreakingTrump: 'Castro's legacy is one of firing squads, unimaginable suffering'

US President-elect Donald Trump has released a statement reacting to Fidel Castro's death: 

"Today, the world marks the passing of a brutal dictator who oppressed his own people for nearly six decades. Fidel Castro's legacy is one of firing squads, theft, unimaginable suffering, poverty and the denial of fundamental human rights.

"While Cuba remains a totalitarian island, it is my hope that today marks a move away from the horrors endured for too long, and toward a future in which the wonderful Cuban people finally live in the freedom they so richly deserve.

"Though the tragedies, deaths and pain caused by Fidel Castro cannot be erased, our administration will do all it can to ensure the Cuban people can finally begin their journey toward prosperity and liberty. I join the many Cuban Americans who supported me so greatly in the presidential campaign, including the Brigade 2506 Veterans Association that endorsed me, with the hope of one day soon seeing a free Cuba."

Earlier, in a Tweet, Mr Trump had said: "Fidel Castro is dead!"

Justin Trudeau: Castro was 'a larger than life leader'

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was in Cuba earlier this month, but a meeting between him and Fidel Castro did not happen.

The friendship between the former Cuban leader and the Trudeau family was decades-old.

Castro was an honorary pallbearer at the 2000 funeral of Justin's father, Pierre, who also served as PM of Canada.

Reacting to Castro's death, Justin Trudeau said he received the news with "great sadness". 

He called Fidel Castro "a longtime friend of Canada and my family".

Fidel Castro (R) stands in front of the casket of former Canadian prime minister Pierre Trudeau at the Montreal City Hall building in downtown Montreal 02 October 2000.
Getty Images
Fidel Castro was a pallbearer at the funeral of Justin Trudeau's father

BreakingObama: 'History will record and judge Castro's impact'

US President Barack Obama offered his condolences to Fidel Castro's family in a statement. 

"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."

Castro’s human rights legacy: 'Repression and persecution'

Photo taken on 3 September 2010 shows former Cuban President Fidel Castro giving a speech at Havana's University
AFP

Allegations of human rights abuses have always been a thorn in the side of the Cuban government.

Observers say that despite being a charismatic leader responsible for many social advances on the island, Fidel Castro exerted a tough control over the country, with protests banned and those who defied the ban facing arrest.

The media is still tightly controlled by the government and journalists have to operate within the confines of laws against anti-government propaganda and the insulting of officials which carry penalties of up to three years in prison.

Reporters without Borders in early 2016 described Cuba as "one of the world's worst countries from the viewpoint of journalists… independent journalists and bloggers are constantly persecuted by the Castro government".  

Orlando Guiterrez, from the Cuban Democratic Directorate, said Fidel Castro had set up a "vicious totalitarian regime" where people were persecuted for the slightest deviation from the official line.

For human rights group Amnesty International, "Fidel Castro’s achievements in improving access to public services for millions of Cubans were tempered by a systemic repression of basic freedoms during his time in power".

“The state of freedom of expression in Cuba, where activists continue to face arrest and harassment for speaking out against the government, is Fidel Castro’s darkest legacy,” Erika Guevara-Rosas, the group's Americas director, added.

Never lost for words

BBC Mundo

Cuban Prime Secretary of the Cuban Communist party and President of the State Council Fidel Castro addresses delegates of the General Assembly of the United Nations in a 4:29-hour speech, 26 September 1960 in New York
OFF/AFP/Getty Images
Castro during his speech at the UN in 1960

Fidel Castro was famous for many things, among them for making exceedingly long speeches. His longest lasted seven hours and 10 minutes, during the 1986 Communist Party Congress in Havana.

He also holds the record for the longest speech ever given at a UN General Assembly.

That clocked in at four hours and 29 minutes.

He told his biographer Ignacio Ramonet that he never gave a speech that hadn't been written by himself.

This file photo taken on 30 December 1988 shows Cuban president Fidel Castro delivering a speech during the inauguration of work at a hospital in Havana
AFP
Castro speaks during ceremony in Havana in 1988

Speaking of numbers, during his days as a leader, Castro used to sleep only four hours a day, according to his biographer. Once in a while, he would catch an extra hour or two of sleep during the day.

He used to work seven days a week, usually going to bed early in the morning, at around 5:00.

Then Cuban President Fidel Castro smokes a cigar during a meeting of the National Assembly in Havana, in this 2 December, 1976
Reuters
Castro smokes a cigar during a meeting of the National Assembly in Havana in 1976

Also legendary are pictures of Fidel Castro smoking. He said he took his first puff at the age of 14, accepting an offer from his father to give it a try. 

He said he smoked a lot in his life before quitting in 1985.

Ladies in White: 'May God forgive him, I won't'

The Cuban dissident group Ladies in White has reacted to the death of Fidel Castro. In a tweet, the group said it would not forgive the late leader: Fidel Castro has died, may God forgive him, I WON'T"

The group, founded by wives of jailed dissidents, hold frequent protests in Havana.

Their members are regularly arrested. Cuban authorities say they are in the pay of the United States and form part of Washington's "decades-old effort to undermine Cuba's socialist revolution".

View more on twitter

'Like an older brother', says Brazil's ex-leader Lula

Brazil's former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said he felt the death of Fidel Castro "like the death of an older brother, an irreplaceable comrade whom I will never forget".

Lula of the Workers' Party came to office in 2003 as the first leftist leader in Brazil in nearly half a century.

He said that "in the worst moments, when dictatorships dominated the main nations in our region, Fidel Castro's bravery and the example set by the Cuban revolution inspired those who resisted to oppression".

Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, then Workers" Party (PT) chairman and now President of Brazil, beside ex-Cuban President Fidel Castro, in São Paulo, southeastern Brazil, July 3, 1990
AP
The friendship between Lula and Fidel Castro went back a long way
This handout photo taken and released by the Instituto Lula on February 25, 2014 in Havana shows former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (L) embracing former Cuban leader Fidel Castro after giving him a Brazilian national football team jersey as a present.
AFP
In 2014, Lula gave Castro, a keen sports fan, a Brazilian football shirt

Fidel Castro v US presidents

During Fidel Castro's time in power, 10 different US presidents occupied the White House. 

Fidel Castro defied all of their efforts to topple him and continued to influence Cuban policy even after he handed over the reins of power to his brother, Raul.

And earlier this year, Barack Obama became the first US president to step foot on Cuban soil since 1928 - but the two did not meet.

Graphic showing the US presidents in power during Castro's leadership
BBC

Communist paper: 'Not a goodbye, but a farewell'

BBC Monitoring

News from around the globe

Screen grabs of Cuban newspapers covering the death of Fidel Castro
BBC
The Cuban media hailed the life of their "hurricane chaser" former president

Newspapers around the world are leading with the death of the Cuban revolutionary leader.

Not surprisingly, Communist papers in Cuba are full of praise for Fidel Castro. The youth newspaper Juventud Rebelde invoked the lyrics of the Cuban revolutionary anthem Hasta Siempre in its tributes: "This is not a goodbye, but a farewell".

The rest of Cuba's tightly-controlled media took a similar line.   

But many Western dailies are far more critical of the late leader. Spain's ABC, for example, calls him "a cheating tyrant". And Italy's Corriere della Sera details the history of Cuba under Castro with the headline "from utopia to torture".

Read more about media reaction from around the world.

Pope: Castro's death 'sad news'

Pope Francis said the death of Fidel Castro was "sad news", and that he was grieving and praying for his repose.

In a message in Spanish to Cuba's President Raul Castro, the Pope said: "I express to you my sentiments of grief."

The Pope met Fidel Castro during a visit to Cuba in September 2015.

Fidel Castro was a self-professed atheist but as a child he attended Catholic schools in Santiago before going on to the Jesuit-run El Colegio de Belen in Havana.

You can read more on his life here

Pope Francis and Cuba's Fidel Castro shakes hands, in Havana, Cuba, on 20 September 2015.
AP
Fidel Castro dies: 'He will always be our commander'
Cubans react to the death of Cuba's revolutionary leader Fidel Castro.

Farc rebel leader Timochenko: 'Eternal glory to Fidel!'

The leader of Colombia's largest rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc), said the memory of Fidel Castro deserved "eternal glory".

Rodrigo Londono, better known as Timochenko, said Castro was "one of the greatest" in the world.

The Farc rebels took much of their inspiration from the Cuban revolution.

More recently, Cuba played a key role in peace talks in Havana which led to the signing of a peace agreement earlier this week between the Farc and the Colombian government. 

Farc guerrilla commander Timochenko in Cuba in November 2016
Getty Images
Farc leader Timochenko took much of his inspiration from the Cuban revolution
Fidel Castro speaking in 1959: 'First free elections in 18 months'
A week after Batista was overthrown, Fidel Castro said the first free election would probably be in 18 months' time.

Trump weighs in on Twitter...

Sadness in Havana

Some Cubans in Havana have been expressing their sadness and speaking of the importance of Castro to their country's history.

Freedom of speech is severely limited in Cuba, so most people with different views are unlikely to express them publicly.

Fidel Castro: 'For us he is an idol'

Dissident blogger: 'A country in ruins'

Dissident Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez tweets from Havana:

#Cuba His legacy: a country in ruins, a country in which young people don't want to live. #DeathOfFidelCastro

View more on twitter

'Deep sympathy' in Africa

Karen Allen

BBC southern Africa correspondent, Johannesburg

The news of Fidel Castro's death has evoked a deep sense of sympathy and solidarity across large swathes of Africa.

He was a man who inspired post-colonial struggles across the continent that he himself once described as "the most beautiful cause of mankind". 

His ties to South Africa in particular - and the fight against apartheid - have been widely honoured. 

Many thousands of Cuban soldiers lost their lives far away from home in countries such as Angola, fighting African wars of liberation. Some will argue that on this day when one of the most important figures of the 20th Century is no more, they must be remembered, too. 

Cuban officer smokes a cigar from his country, 23 February 1976.
AFP
A Cuban soldier fighting in Angola stops to smoke a cigar

"Will you shave off your beard?..."

... and other questions for the revolutionary leader:

View more on twitter

Scuffles break out in Madrid

Supporters and opponents of Fidel Castro have clashed outside the Cuban embassy in the Spanish capital, Madrid. 

The two sides traded insults and police had to intervene to separate some protesters.

Spain is home to many Cuban dissidents after then-Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero struck a deal with Raul Castro Raul in 2010 to transfer more than 100 political prisoners and their families to Spain.

A police officer separates pro and anti Castro demonstrators in front of Cuba"s embassy in Madrid on November 26, 2016
AFP
Police officers separated pro- and anti-Castro protesters in Madrid
Fidel Castro: 'For us he is an idol'
People on the streets of Havana have been expressing sadness at the death of Fidel Castro.

'Cubans are prepared for post-Fidel era'

Will Grant

BBC News, Havana

Cubans have been preparing for this moment, a post-Fidel Cuba, for several years now as he retired from public life and largely disappeared from view.

But now that it has actually arrived, some are asking whether it will make any political difference to Cuba’s trajectory.

It is unlikely to, mainly because Raul Castro has already been implementing economic changes intended to attract foreign direct investment and ease the tight restrictions on ordinary Cubans. 

Plus, of course, there is the new rapprochement with Washington. While it is still not clear what a Trump presidency will mean in that regard, those changes are unlikely to be reversed because of Fidel Castro’s death. 

Nor will Cuba change its one-party political system in his absence. Politically, his legacy lives on.

Tourists get into a car in Havana, November 2016
EPA
Tourism has increased as relations with the US have improved

UK Labour leader Corbyn: Castro 'a huge figure in our lives'

The leader of Britain's Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, said Fidel Castro had been "such a huge figure in our lives", recalling the revolution, the missile crisis and personal visits to Cuba.

He praised the Castros for their recent rapprochement with the US:

"It is to the credit of both the Castros, Fidel and his younger brother, that they and President Obama reached an accord and reached an agreement so that there are now better, more normal relationships between Cuba and the USA." 

But Mr Corbyn also recognised that not everything was rosy in Cuba:

"There were problems and there are problems of excesses by all regimes and I recognise that. I have spoken out about human rights abuses anywhere in the world. But we have to look at the thing in its totality. One doesn't excuse that - one does recognise the economic and social changes that have happened in Cuba as a result of the revolution in 1959."

Castro was 'giant of history'

Bolivia's left-wing President Evo Morales calls Fidel Castro a "giant in the history of humanity". 

Mr Morales visited Fidel Castro in August of this year, one of many visits he made to see the man he considered "an inspiration".

In a tweet, Mr Morales also expressed his "admiration and respect for Fidel, the leader who taught us to fight for the sovereignty of the state and the dignity of the people of the world".

View more on twitter

Cubans seek-out wi-fi hot spots

Wi-fi hotspots would have been unheard of under Fidel Castro - but there are now more than 40 on the streets of the capital, Havana. Residents gathered around them to read more about his death and contact friends and relatives. Very few people have internet access at home.

Residents of Havana use phones at a wi-fi hotspot
AP
Phone with messages about death of Fidel Castro
AP

'True to his convictions'

Did Castro manage to create a Cuba "for all Cubans and the good of all Cubans"? He built an impressive health system but is considered a failure on economic development by some, writes Dr Stephen Wilkinson, editor of the International Journal of Cuban Studies. 

And beyond his supporters in Cuba, Fidel Castro will be most fondly remembered in Latin America and Africa - where Nelson Mandela himself attributed his release from jail and the ultimate defeat of apartheid to Castro's intervention in the Angolan war, Dr Wilkinson says.

May 11, 2001, Cuban President Fidel Castro listening as he addresses a public lecture in Kuala Lumpur.
AFP

Official mourning

During the official mourning period, radio and television will broadcast "informative, patriotic and historic" programmes, Cuba's Council of State announced. 

Flags will fly at half mast and there will be no public events apart from those related to Fidel Castro's death.

Final resting place

Fidel Castro's ashes will be laid to rest in the Santa Ifigenia cemetery in the south-eastern city of Santiago de Cuba. 

A grandiose cemetery, Santa Ifigenia was built in 1868 for the victims of the War of Independence.

It is the resting place of Cuban independence hero Jose Marti.

Expected, yet unexpected

The BBC's Will Grant in Havana says that even though there was a sense of inevitability about Castro's death, given the former president's age, the news caught people off guard somewhat as photos had been released of him looking reasonably well in recent days.

Fidel Castro with Vietnam's President Tran Dai Quang on 15 Nov 2016
AFP / www.cubadebate.cu
Fidel Castro was photographed with Vietnam's President Tran Dai Quang on 15 November 2016

In pictures: Castro and international figures

During his almost five decades in charge of Cuba, Fidel Castro was pictured with many key international figures, while others froze him out of their relations.

Che Guevara (L) with Fidel Castro in the 1960s
AFP
He worked alongside Argentine-born Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara
Castro (L) with Yasser Arafat
AFP
Palestine Liberation Organization chairman Yasser Arafat visited Cuba in 1974
Fidel Castro with Indira Gandhi
AFP
Indira Gandhi met him in the US in 1976, when she was Indian PM
Pope John Paul II (R) with Fidel Castro
AFP
His leadership straddled that of six Popes including John Paul II, here in 1996

Final farewell

Cubans will be given a chance to bid farewell to Fidel Castro in a mass gathering to be held in Revolution Square in Havana on 29 November, Cuba's Council of State has announced.

His ashes will then be taken along the "Caravan of Freedom", the path he and his guerrilla fighters took during the Cuban Revolution.

Castro's ashes to be laid to rest in December

Fidel Castro's ashes will be laid to rest on 4 December, Cuba has announced.

A period of official mourning has been declared until that day.

'Give him what he deserves'

Cuban exiles in Miami, who have longed for the demise of the Castro regime, sang and danced in celebration - even in the rain.

Sign in Little Havana, Miami, as Cuban exiles celebrate
Reuters
Cuban exiles dance in Little Havana, Miami
Reuters
Cuban exiles celebrate in Miami
AFP

Putin honours 'true and loyal friend'

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) meets Fidel Castro in 2014
AFP
Putin and Castro meeting in 2014

Russian President Vladimir Putin sends a message to Cuban President Raul Castro:

"The name of this eminent statesman is rightly considered a symbol of a whole era in world history. 

"The free and independent Cuba which he and his allies built became an influential member of the international community and was an inspirational example for many countries and peoples. 

"Fidel Castro was a true and loyal friend of Russia. He personally invested a great deal in the establishment and development of Russian-Cuban relations, close strategic cooperation in all spheres. 

"This strong and wise man always looked to the future with confidence. He embodied the high ideals of a politician, citizen and patriot, truly convinced of the cause to which he devoted his entire life. 

"His memory will live on always in Russians' hearts.