BBC News

Fidel Castro: A life in pictures

Published
image copyrightAP
image captionFidel Castro was born in 1926 to a wealthy sugar planter. He turned to revolutionary politics as a young man.
image copyrightAP
image captionAfter two years in jail for mounting a failed coup, he went into exile in Mexico. He returned in 1956 and his revolutionary movement took hold. Castro finally assumed power in Cuba on New Year's Day, 1959, after ousting Fulgencio Batista.
image copyrightAP
image captionIn 1961, Castro led his troops against 1,500 Cuban exiles. The exiles were supported by the CIA, who landed in the Bay of Pigs in a bid to oust his government.
image copyrightAFP
image captionErnesto "Che" Guevara, born in Argentina, became a key figure in Cuba's revolution alongside Castro - and a left-wing hero. The pair are pictured in the 1960s.
image copyrightAP
image captionPerhaps Castro's biggest test came in 1962, when US President Kennedy warned him to remove Soviet missiles from Cuba.
image copyrightAFP
image captionIn the end, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev and Castro removed the missiles, and the threat of nuclear war was averted.
image copyrightAP
image captionFidel Castro had a particular love of baseball. Here he is seen playing here at a teachers' college in the Sierra Maestra in 1962.
image copyrightAFP
image captionMany liberal Cubans considered him an oppressive dictator.
image copyrightAP
image captionThousands fled their homeland for the US, often on dangerous makeshift rafts.
image copyrightOther
image captionBut Fidel Castro retained enough public support to become one of the world's longest-serving leaders.
image copyrightAFP
image captionSouth African icon Nelson Mandela was among those to embrace Castro, who opposed apartheid. In 1990, when his 27 years in jail ended, Mandela visited Cuba to express his gratitude. The pair are pictured in 1998.
image copyrightAP
image captionPope John Paul II visited Cuba in 1998 - the first pontiff to do so. Hundreds of thousands gathered to hear his three-hour address in Havana's Revolution Square. Castro, who the church says persecuted Catholics for decades, sat in the front row.
image copyrightAFP
image captionRussia's Vladimir Putin (pictured in 2000) met Castro several times. In a condolence message, he said "Fidel Castro was a sincere and reliable friend of Russia" and called him "a symbol of an era in the modern history of the world".
image copyrightAFP
image captionIn September 2010, Fidel Castro addressed a rally for the first time in four years. His speech was the first in a string of appearances since he re-emerged in July 2010 from seclusion after surgery.
image copyrightReuters
image captionAfter intestinal surgery in 2006, he handed day-to-day power to his brother Raul. Then he made only rare recorded appearances, before stepping down in February 2008.
image copyrightAP
image captionOne of the last times Castro was glimpsed was during the visit of the Vietnamese president in November.