Fidel Castro officially retired today. He’s not dead, but his reports of retiring read like an obit (from Reuters):
“Fidel Castro’s resignation is the end of an era that started with freedom and ended with oppression,” said Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt.
The charismatic Castro led the bearded and cigar-chomping guerrillas who swept down from the mountains of eastern Cuba to overthrow U.S.-backedin 1959.
He then turned Cuba into a communist state on the doorstep of the United States and became the world’s longest-serving head of state, barring monarchs.
Castro survived a CIA-backed invasion of Cuban exiles at the Bay of Pigs in 1961, as well as assassination attempts, the continuing U.S. trade embargo, and an economic crisis in the 1990s after the collapse of Soviet bloc communism.
He played a key role in taking the world to the brink of nuclear war in 1962 when he letput , leading to a 13-day stand-off between U.S. President John F. Kennedy and Soviet premier .
Famous for his long speeches delivered in green military fatigues, Castro is admired in the Third World for standing up to the United States but considered by his opponents a dictator who suppressed freedom.
Bye, Fidel! I’ll miss your beard, your cigar, and your baseball obsession. But most of all, I think I’ll miss your breakdancing!