The divisive leader of the Cuban revolution who successfully charmed his way into power in 1959 died on Friday. Fidel Castro was 90 years old. Raúl Castro, the younger brother of the controversial revolutionary and the country's current president, made the announcement on Cuban state television. Some erupted in wild celebratory rallies while others mourned the fallen figure.
"We know his death means nothing, but with his death we get some resolve and get to put to rest [peace in the afterlife for] our family members who never returned to their native land," said Emerio Diaz, a Cuban-American high school teacher. "His death is not the reason for celebration, rather his death symbolized the death of the torment he caused."
On the other hand, Caupolicán Mamolar, a university student from Spain who sympathized with the communist leader, said Castro "was a man that fought against oligarchies to try and establish a new order to end poverty in the Caribbean country." To some across the world, Castro was viewed as an anti-imperialist leader of social justice; however, after decades in power, many of his visions and promises remained unfulfilled.
Fidel Castro Was a Murderous Dictator..He’s Dead. Like ALL Strong-Man Despots,He Let His Ppl Suffer & Die Because Of His Insane Ego — Cher (@cher) November 26, 2016
"Fidel's Castro legacy led to a society of extreme poverty forcing people to live on non-livable wages," said Christian Alfaro, a Cuban-American living in Miami. He described Castro's legacy in Cuba as "a society of political suppression that uses its tyrannical powers to control their citizens for their own economic gain."
Castro came to power after unseating Cuban leader Fulgencio Batista Zaldivar, appealing to a wide population of social classes in Cuba, catapulting him to the presidency for five decades, longer than any other living political figure except Queen Elizabeth II.
His decades in power were marred by as much violence and repression as global generosity, dispatching Cuban-educated doctors and Cuban-developed vaccines to the poorest countries across the globe. Castro was known for his fiery critique of U.S. policies and aligned himself with the Soviet Union, which lead to a series of harsh U.S. embargoes toward the island nation.
"Castro represented standing up to the interference of the U.S., kind of like David and Goliath," said Max Shier, an American student studying in Russia. He said he doesn't necessarily see communism or socialism as an evil idea, but that Castro was a failure and hypocrite to the political ideology. "I think people who hated Fidel for this hated him for the wrong reasons."
To many, Castro's death symbolizes the end of an era. And as the country observes a nine-day period of national mourning that started Friday, Cubans both on the island and abroad are left imagining what the future of the island nation will be.