Friday, June 30, 2017

Goods and Services Tax India ( GST )


GST or Goods and Services Tax+ , set to launch on July 1, is a multi-stage, destination-based tax that will be levied on every value addition.Set to revolutionise the way India does its taxes, GST will be levied on value additions+ at each stage of the production cycle - buying raw materials, processing, manufacturing, warehousing and sale to customers - the monetary worth added at each stage to achieve the final sale to the end customer will be taxed. The final consumer will thus bear only the GST charged by the last dealer in the supply chain, with set-off benefits at all the previous stages.Goods & Services Tax (GST) is an indirect tax throughout India to replace taxes levied by the central and state governments. It is introduced as The Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty Second Amendment) Act 2017, following the passage of Constitution 122nd Amendment Bill. The GST is governed by GST Council and its Chairman is Finance Minister of India. Under GST, goods and services will be taxed at the following rates, 0%, 5%, 12%, 18%, 28%. There is a special rate of 0.25% on rough precious and semi-precious stones and 3% on gold.[1][2]
The GST regime is set to be in force from 1st July 2017 with a special midnight session in the Central Hall of the Indian Parliament to commemorate the occasion. The reform process in indirect tax regime of India was started in 1986 by Vishwanath Pratap Singh by introduction of Modified Value Added Tax (MODVAT).[3] Goods and services tax (GST) taxes including central excise duty, services tax, additional customs duty, surcharges, state-level value added tax and Octroi.[4][5] Other levies which are currently applicable on inter-state transportation of goods are also likely to be done away with in GST regime.[6][7] The following taxes will be bound together by the GST: Central Excise Duty Commercial Tax Value Added Tax (VAT) Food Tax Central Sales Tax (CST) Introit Entertainment Tax Entry Tax Purchase Tax Luxury Tax Advertisement tax Service Tax
GST will be levied on all transactions such as sale, transfer, purchase, barter, lease, or import of goods and/or services. India will adopt a dual GST model, meaning that taxation is administered by both the Union and State Governments. Transactions made within a single state will be levied with Central GST (CGST) by the Central Government and State GST (SGST) by the government of that state. For inter-state transactions and imported goods or services, an Integrated GST (IGST) is levied by the Central Government. GST is a consumption based tax, therefore, taxes are paid to the state where the goods or services are consumed not the state in which they were produced. IGST complicates tax collection for State Governments by disabling them to collect the tax owed to them directly from the Central Government. Under the previous system, a state would have to only deal with a single government in order to collect tax revenue. Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN)
"Goods and Services Tax" Network (GSTN) is a nonprofit organization formed to create a platform for all the concerned parties i.e. stakeholders, government, taxpayers to collaborate on a single portal. The portal will be accessible to the central government which will track down every transaction on its end while the taxpayers will be having a vast service to return file their taxes and maintain the details. The IT network will be developed by private firms which are being in tie up with the central government and will be having stakes accordingly. The known authorized capital of GSTN is ₹10 crore (US$1.6 million) in which Central Government holds 24.5 percent of shares while the state government holds 24.5 percent and rest with private banking firms. Advantages and disadvantages of GST Advantages of GST 1. GST is a transparent Tax and also reduce numbers of indirect taxes. With GST implemented a business premises can show the tax applied in the sales invoice. Customer will know exactly how much tax they are paying on the product they bought or services they consumed. 2. GST will not be a cost to registered retailers therefore there will be no hidden taxes and the cost of doing business will be lower. This in turn will help Export being more competitive. 3. GST can also help to diversification of income sources for Government other than income tax and petroleum tax. 4. Under Goods and Services Tax, the tax burden will be divided equally between Manufacturing and services. This can be done through lower tax rate by increase Tax base and reducing exemptions. 5. In GST System bothe Central GST and State GST will be charged on manufacturing cost and will be collected on point of sale. This will benefit people as prices will come down which in turn will help companies as consumption will increase. 6. Biggest benefit will be that multiple taxes like octroi, central sales tax, state sales tax, entry tax, license fees, turnover tax etc will no longer be present and all that will be brought under the GST. Doing Business now will be easier and more comfortable as various hidden taxation will not be present.
In the amended Bill a cap Of 18% GST will be applicable on Goods and Services through the country. Because of this Prices of Those Goods and services on which we used to pay taxes below 18% will be increased. For example right now we pay around 4-5% Tax on packaged foods. But after GST the total tax on these products will definitely go up which will increase its retail price. Similarly Jewelery, Mobile Bill, Credit Card Bill, Services rates will also go up. And Prices of those goods and Services on which we used to pay taxes above 18% will be reduced.
Fr example taxes will be reduced on Mini SUV for which we are paying 30-40% Tax right now. After GST it will be reduced to 18%. Similarly Consumer goods like AC, Refrigerator and Transportation cost will also go down. More than 150 Countries have implemented GST and each of them faced Rise in Inflation for next 3-5 Years. Disadvantages of GST 1. Critics say that GST would impact negatively on the real estate market. It would add up to 8 percent to the cost of new homes and reduce demand by about 12 percent. 2. Some Economist says that CGST, SGST and IGST are nothing but new names for Central Excise/Service Tax, VAT and CST and hence GST brings nothing new for which we should cheer. Updates About GST 1. You can enroll for GST online by visiting government website – https://www.gst.gov.in/
2. There will be four tax slabs of 5%, 12%, 18% and 28%. Luxury and demerit goods will be taxed at 28% plus cess. 3. Unlike aother countries where GST has already been implemented, India opted for dual GST – SGST and CGST, administered by State and Centre respectively.
4. Threshold for GST has been set to 15 Lakh for North east and Hill states, and 20 Lakh for other states. 5. Many Tax Experts say that 1st July 2017 is the best case scenario for Implementation of GST in India

Saturday, June 17, 2017

PM Narendra Modi to flag off Kochi Metro today, take inaugural ride


Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday inaugurated Kochi Metro. Addressing the crowd in Kochi, Modi said that he dedicates the metro services to the people of Kochi. He also said that with rising population in Kochi, people of Kochi will be find the metro services very helpful. He also added that coaches in Kochi Metro shows Make in India vision. Describing Kochi as the “queen of Arabian Sea”, PM Modi said that Kochi has become the capital hub of Kerala over the years.
Earlier, PM Modi arrived at Kochi INS Garuda Naval Air Station, news agency ANI reported, where he was welcomed by Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. He took the first metro ride along with CM Vijayan, Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu and “Metro Man” E Sreedharan from Palarivattom to Pathadippalam, after which he proceeded towards the Jawaharlal Nehru International Stadium for the inauguration. PM Modi is expected to hold meeting with CM Vijayan and other cabinet ministers later in the day.
Arriving in a special aircraft at the Kochi Naval Base, Modi will proceed to Palarivattom station to board the Metro to Pathadipplam and will return to Palarivattom. Then he will proceed to Kaloor international stadium, the venue of the inaugural ceremony.The Kochi Metro is the first public transport system to reserve jobs for members of the third sex and it will be manned mainly by women from the Kudumbhasree Mission, a self-help group. Among 30-odd Metro drivers, seven are women.The Metro has employed 23 transgenders in various departments based on their qualifications. Selected after a written test and interview, they were given three-month training. More workers from the community will be inducted after gauging their success, said Kerala Metro Rail Limited managing director Elias George.It is also the county’s first fully integrated metro. With one ticket, a commuter can travel in feeder services along road and water.
Besides this, the Metro has installed solar panels atop all stations to tap green energy. Once fully operational, the Metro’s entire power demand will be met by these panels. In the first phase, trains will operate for a distance of 13 km - Aluva to Palarivattom. There are 11 stations in the 13-km stretch that will be covered in 20 minutes. Later, it will be extended to Maharajas College. Construction for the first phase began in 2012 after the Oommen Chandy government entrusted the work to the DMRC with Sreedharan as its principal advisor.
The project had its share of controversies too. Earlier, there was an attempt to inaugurate the project while the Prime Minister was out of the country. When it snowballed into a big issue, the Kerala government retracted. The state government had protested a few days back when the guest list for the inaugural session was cut short by the PMO. Later, Sreedharan was included in the guest list on the dais. However, Sreedharan, popularly known as the Metro Man, downplayed the issue. The Metro also threw a sumptuous treat for its 800-odd employees, mainly labourers from the north-eastern states who worked in the project for the last three years. ‘Metro Man’ Sreedharan gets loudest cheers at Kochi Metro inauguration
There were loud cheers and whistling in the audience as Sreedharan's name was mentioned as Prime Minister Narendra Modi and others looked on. E Sreedharan may have needed the state government’s intervention to get a place on the dais for the Kochi Metro inauguration but when he did, the loudest cheers of the audience were reserved for him. So much so that KMRL MD Elias George, while mentioning Sreedharan’s contribution, had to wait for several seconds for the applause to die down during his address. Towards the end of his welcome address, George said, “I would be remiss if I did not specifically welcome Dr Sreedharan…(heavy applause)…who is
one of India’s most distinguished engineers and a source of inspiration for all Indians. None of us are in any doubt that our Metro would not have been completed today without his dedication and commitment. I have great pleasure in welcoming you, sir, to this function.” There were loud cheers and whistling in the audience as Sreedharan’s name was mentioned as Prime Minister Narendra Modi and others looked on.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Union Minister for Urban Development Venkaiah Naidu also mentioned Sreedharan’s contributions in their speeches at the inauguration function. The names of Sreedharan and Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala were approved by the PMO in the list of dignitaries on the dais after the state government requested the same. However, the ‘Metro Man’ himself said that he was not disappointed that his name was ruled out in the initial list. “I am here only with all of you,” he had told reporters. Sreedharan, who served as the DMRC’s managing director between 1995 and 2012, came on to the Kochi Metro project as a principal advisor. He said that he will not be involved in the phase – 2 of the Metro’s construction as KMRL is equipped to work on it. There were also rumours that Sreedharan was being considered as the NDA candidate for President though he himself quashed the rumours.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Kerala Law Academy: Police Register Case Against College Principal Lakshmi Nair


A case was registered under SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act against Principal of a private law college, where the students are on strike since the past 20 days, demanding her resignation. The case against the Principal Lakshmi Nair has been registered under Sect 31 (s) of the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act, which was a non-bailable offence, police said. The case was registered on a complaint of harassment by some students for calling them by their caste names. A group of Students of the Kerala Law Academy Law College, a private management institution, are on a war path since the past 20 days protesting against the alleged harassment and demanding the removal of the Principal, who is the daughter of a close relative of a former CPI(M) MLA. Congress today decided to sharpen their attack against the college authorities by demanding the immediate resignation of the Principal. KPCC President V M Sudheeran said in the wake of the Kerala university syndicate debarring the principal for five years from examination duties and internal assessment, there was no other option left for her, but to resign.
Alleging that the impasse over the issue was continuing due to the CPI(M)'s intervention, he said the Marxist party should not create any hurdles on the matter concerning the students agitation. "The Principal should resign and government should be prepared to make her resign. The affiliation of the college should be withdrawn and government should take it over", he told reporters here. Former KPCC President, K Muraleedharan said if the government fails to find a solution to the issue within 48 hours, he would launch an indefinite hunger strike. BJP National Executive member, V Muraleedharan, is on an indefinite hunger strike in front of the college since Jan 20 in support of the demands of the students. The ruling CPI(M), which has so far given a cold shoulder to the agitation, has said the strike by students should not be politicised. Students organisations affiliated to various political parties, including CPI(M), are on strike and have made it clear that they would continue until the resignation of the Principal.
VS Achuthanandan writes to revenue minister on Kerala Law Academy issue Continuing with his tirade against the Left government and the CPM leadership, Administrative Reforms Commission chairman VS Achuthanandan made fresh remarks on the Kerala Law Academy fiasco. Even as his party bosses are playing it safe, the CPM veteran wrote to revenue minister E Chandrasekharan urging the government to take over the Academy land used for other purposes. The former chief minister also sought to know the legal status of the land allegedly in possession of the academy. The department should take up an enquiry to verify whether the land was allocated to the trust and if it is being misused, he said. Raising another allegation, VS demanded a probe into the construction and sale of flats by the trust in association with a private real estate construction company at Punnen Road. There should be stringent verification regarding the utilisation of government land, asked the veteran leader. The CPM which has been playing down the academy strike, has been attempting to portray it as a mere students' issue. Party state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan had, the other day, rejected Achuthanandan's demand seeking the government to take over the land. He had also insisted that the strike should be treated only as a students' agitation. On Monday, VS publicly challenged the party stance terming the strike a 'public issue' which needs the society's attention. “Those who should rein in the power centres should not surrender before the (Law Academy) management,” he had stated.
The brewing unrest among students following the death of engineering aspirant Jishnu Pranoy broke the stream barriers and reached the Kerala Law Academy Law College on Friday. The college was closed down indefinitely following a joint strike by students’ unions for denying them opportunity to protest against the death of Jishnu. But the students strike had a private angle too to it. The representatives of KSU, AISF and MSF in a joint press meet alleged principal Lekshmi Nair denied the permission to protest knowing that they would expose the management practices before students. They also alleged that the principal - who anchors a cookery show - devotes more time to her television programme than running the college.
“The principal initially gave us permission to address students in the class. But later she changed her mind and decided to stop classes. The academy is not running as per the norms and students are at the receving end,” said Vivek V J of AISF. The unions al s o alleged the principal had been harassing students who opposed to her. “The principal uses her discretion in awarding internal marks and attendance. Twenty one students h av e l o s t their valuable academic year due to this,” said Naimathulla of MSF. Students accused Lekshmi of running the institution through her relatives and threatening students and staff using goons. Meanwhile, Lekshmi has refuted the allegations. “I am present in the college. I go for the shoot during weekends or on holidays. Most of the students who are protesting do not have attendance mandated by the university and many have failed in multiple papers,” she said. Lekshmi said she decided to close down the college as students’ unions wanted to harass her. “Unions have threatened me, my son and his fiance who is studying in the college,” she said.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

ഒഴിവുകൾ കണ്ടെത്താൻ അഡ്. വിജിലൻസ് ഓഫിസ് കയറി പരിശോധന തുടങ്ങി.


സർക്കാരിന്റെ വിവിധ വകുപ്പുകളിൽ ഒഴിവുള്ള തസ്തികകൾ കണ്ടെത്താൻ അഡ്മിനിസ്ട്രേറ്റീവ് വിജിലൻസ് വിഭാഗം ഓഫിസ് കയറിയുള്ള പരിശോധന തുടങ്ങി. പലവട്ടം ആവശ്യപ്പെട്ടിട്ടും മിക്ക വകുപ്പുകളും ഒഴിവ് പിഎസ്‌സിയെ അറിയിക്കാതെ ഒളിച്ചുകളി തുടരുന്നതിനാലാണു ചീഫ് സെക്രട്ടറി അധ്യക്ഷനായ നിരീക്ഷണ സമിതി വിജിലൻസിനെ ഇറക്കിയത്. ആദ്യഘട്ടമായി തിരുവനന്തപുരം ജില്ലാ വിദ്യാഭ്യാസ ഓഫിസിൽ നടത്തിയ പരിശോധനയിൽ എൽപി അധ്യാപകരുടെ 57 പേരുടെ ഒഴിവുകൾ രഹസ്യമാക്കി വച്ചതു കണ്ടെത്തി. റാങ്ക് പട്ടികയുടെ കാലാവധി അവസാനിക്കാൻ ഒരാഴ്ച മാത്രം ശേഷിക്കെയാണ് ഇവ കണ്ടെത്തി പിഎസ്‌സിക്കു റിപ്പോർട്ടു ചെയ്യിച്ചത്. ഇതു കാരണം ജോലി ലഭിക്കില്ലെന്ന നിരാശയിൽ കഴിഞ്ഞ 57 പേർക്ക് അവസാന നിമിഷം നിയമന ഉത്തരവു ലഭിച്ചു. ലാബ് ടെക്നിഷ്യൻ തസ്തികയിലേക്കുള്ള നിയമനത്തിന് ഒഴിവുണ്ടോ എന്നു കണ്ടെത്താൻ മെഡിക്കൽ കോളജുകളിൽ പരിശോധന തുടരുകയാണിപ്പോൾ. സർവേയും ഭൂരേഖയും വകുപ്പിലെ തസ്തികകളും റിപ്പോർട്ട് ചെയ്തിട്ടില്ലെന്നു തെളിഞ്ഞു. സർവകലാശാല അസിസ്റ്റന്റ് തസ്തികയിലേക്കുള്ള ഒഴിവു കണ്ടെത്താനും പരിശോധന ആരംഭിച്ചിട്ടുണ്ട്.
താൽക്കാലിക ജീവനക്കാരെ നിയമിക്കാനായി മിക്ക വകുപ്പുകളിലെ ഒഴിവുകളും കൃത്യമായി പിഎസ്‍സിയെ അറിയിക്കാതിരിക്കുക കാലങ്ങളായി തുടരുന്ന തന്ത്രമാണ്. ഒഴിവു റിപ്പോർട്ട് ചെയ്യുന്നതു പരമാവധി നീട്ടുകയും ഒടുവിൽ റാങ്ക് ഹോൾഡർമാരിൽ നിന്നു കോഴ വാങ്ങി ഒഴിവുകൾ പിഎസ്‌സിയെ അറിയിക്കാൻ തയാറാകുന്നവരുമുണ്ട്. കഴിഞ്ഞ സർക്കാരിന്റെ കാലത്ത്, വരാൻ പോകുന്ന ഒഴിവുകൾ പോലും മുൻകൂട്ടിക്കണ്ട് പിഎസ്‌സിയെ അറിയിക്കാൻ നിർദേശം നൽകിയെങ്കിലും ഇതു പാലിക്കാത്ത വകുപ്പുകളുണ്ടായിരുന്നു. ഇൗ സർക്കാർ അധികാരമേറ്റ ശേഷവും ഒഴിവുകൾ കണ്ടെത്താൻ നടത്തിയ ശ്രമങ്ങൾ പൂർണമായി ഫലം കണ്ടില്ല. കൃത്യമായ ഒഴിവ് റിപ്പോർട്ടിങ് ഉറപ്പാക്കാൻ ചീഫ് സെക്രട്ടറി അധ്യക്ഷനായി നിയോഗിച്ച സമിതി ഒഴിവറിയിക്കുന്നതിനു പുതിയ മാനദണ്ഡങ്ങൾ അടുത്തിടെ ഏർപ്പെടുത്തിയിരുന്നു. ഓൺലൈനായി ഒഴിവുകൾ അറിയിക്കാനാണു വകുപ്പുകൾക്കു നൽകിയിരിക്കുന്ന നിർദേശം. എന്നാൽ, ഓൺലൈനായി ഒഴിവുകളുടെ വിവരങ്ങൾ നൽകുമ്പോൾ ബോധപൂർവം ചില വിശദാംശങ്ങൾ ഓഫിസ് മേധാവികൾ മറച്ചുവയ്ക്കുന്നുവെന്നാണ് പിഎസ്‍സിയുടെ പരാതി. പൂർണ വിവരം ലഭിച്ചില്ലെങ്കിൽ ഫയൽ മുന്നോട്ടുനീക്കാൻ കഴിയാത്ത നിസഹായാവസ്ഥയിലാണു തങ്ങളെന്നു പിഎസ്‌സി പറയുന്നു.
ഇൗ പ്രതിസന്ധി മറികടക്കാനാണ് ഉദ്യോഗസ്ഥ ഭരണ പരിഷ്കാര വകുപ്പിനു കീഴിലെ അഡ്മിനിസ്ട്രേറ്റീവ് വിജിലൻസ് വിഭാഗത്തിനു മിന്നൽ പരിശോധനയ്ക്കു നിർദേശം നൽകിയത്. ഒഴിവുകൾ റിപ്പോർട്ട് ചെയ്യാത്തതു സംബന്ധിച്ചു മുഖ്യമന്ത്രിയുടെ പരാതി പരിഹാര സെല്ലിനോ ചീഫ് സെക്രട്ടറിക്കോ രേഖാമൂലം ഉദ്യോഗാർഥികൾക്കു പരാതി നൽകാനാകും.ഇൗ പരാതികൾ വിജിലൻസിനു കൈമാറും.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Communist revolutionary Fidel Castro ( Our Red star ) dies aged 90: Cuba declares nine days of national mourning


Castro died at 10.29pm on Friday night, his brother Raul Castro announced on Cuban state TV The controversial leader led Cuba for nearly half a century as both prime minister and president Vladimir Putin has branded him the 'symbol of an era' and a 'distinguished statesman' French President Francois Hollande branded him a 'towering figure', but voiced concerns about human rights abuses in Cuba Castro made his last official appearance before the country's Communist party in April and predicted that his death was near He claimed in the past to have survived 634 assassination attempts Castro was 32 when he overthrew dictator Fulgencio Batista's government in 1959, becoming Cuba's prime minister The US severed diplomatic ties in 1961, banning all exports to Cuba except for food and medicine Castro's brother Raul and President Obama moved to restore diplomatic ties in December 2014
As large crowds of Cuban exiles gathered in Miami to celebrate his death US Congress representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Cuban-American Republican from Miami, described Castro as a 'tyrant' Fidel Castro, who led his native Cuba for nearly half a century and claimed to have survived more than 600 assassination attempts, has died at the age of 90. With a shaking voice, his younger brother, Raul Castro, announced on state television that the Communist revolutionary died on Friday night. World leaders have paid tribute to the revolutionary, who came to power in 1959, with former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev praising him for 'strengthening' his island nation.
Russian President Vladimir Putin described him as a 'symbol of an era', and said he was a 'distinguished statesman', and Pope Francis has said Castro's death is 'sad news'. Nine days of public mourning for the deceased Cuban leader have been announced, when 'public activities and shows' will cease, and flags will fly at half mast. The island's Council of State says state radio and television 'will maintain informative, patriotic and historic programming'. Castro's ashes will be buried in the historic southeastern city of Santiago on December 4 after a four-day procession through the country. Raul Castro, who succeeded his brother in 2006, told Cubans in the television announcement: 'Today, November 25, at 10.29pm, the Commander in Chief of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro Ruz, passed away. 'In compliance with the expressed will of Companion Fidel, his remains will be cremated.' He concluded his statement by saying: 'Onward to victory. Castro's death comes just months after the Communist revolutionary predicted that his time on earth was nearly up.
Among the first world figures to pay tribute to Castro was former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, who praised him for 'strengthening' his island nation. Gorbachev said: 'Fidel stood up and strengthened his country during the harshest American blockade, when there was colossal pressure on him and he still took his country out of this blockade to a path of independent development.' And current Russian President Vladimir Putin said: 'The name of this distinguished statesman is rightly considered the symbol of an era in modern world history. Fidel Castro was a sincere and reliable friend of Russia.' Putin added that Castro has managed to build a 'free and independent Cuba' that 'became an influential member of the international community and served as an inspiration for many countries and peoples'. Pope Francis has said Castro's death was 'sad news', and in a message to Raul, said:'I express to you my sentiments of grief.'
The Kremlin strongman hailed Castro as a 'strong and wise person who always looked to the future with confidence'. 'He embodied the high ideals of a politician, a citizen and a patriot sincerely convinced of the rightness of the cause to which he dedicated his whole life,' Putin said. 'His memory will forever remain in the hearts of the citizens of Russia.' Putin also said that Castro had made a 'huge personal contribution' in the establishment and development of the countries' bilateral relations. Castro made his last official appearance before the country's Communist Party in April, asking party members to help keep his ideas alive long after he died. 'The time will come for all of us, but the ideas of the Cuban Communists will remain as proof on this planet that if they are worked at with fervor and dignity, they can produce the material and cultural goods that human beings need,' he told them. Castro spoke as the government announced that his brother Raul will retain the Cuban Communist Party's highest post alongside his hardline second-in-command.
It was a resounding message that communism would retain its hold on Cuba, even as its leaders begin to die and age and icy relations with the US continue to thaw. Castro officially handed power to his brother Raul in 2008, two years after he required emergency surgery for intestinal bleeding. Raul Castro had been made acting president in 2006. As news of Castro's death broke, world leaders paid tribute to the revolutionary. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi described him as 'one of the most iconic personalities of the 20th century', and said: 'India mourns the loss of a great friend. I extend my deepest condolences to the Government and people of Cuba on the sad demise of Fidel Castro. May his soul rest in peace.' Latin American leaders voiced their sorrow at Castro's death. In Bolivia, where Castro ally Ernesto 'Che' Guevara died in 1967 in a failed bid to export Cuba's revolution, President Evo Morales said in a statement: 'Fidel Castro left us a legacy of having fought for the integration of the world's peoples ... The departure of Comandante Fidel Castro really hurts And Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa said: 'A great has left us. Fidel has died. Long live Cuba! Long live Latin America!' Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto said: 'Fidel Castro was a friend of Mexico, promoter of a bilateral relationship based on respect, dialogue and solidarity.' And Salvador Sanchez Ceren, President of El Salvador, tweeted: 'With deep sorrow we received news of the death of my dear friend and eternal companion, Commander Fidel Castro Ruz.' In Venezuela, a long-time ally of Cuba and staunch opponent of the political stance of the United States, President Nicolas Maduro said Castro had inspired and would continue to inspire his country.
'We will keep on winning and keep fighting. Fidel Castro is an example of the fight for all the people of the world. We will go forward with his legacy,' Maduro told television station Telesur by telephone. South African President Jacob Zuma hailed Castro for his help supporting the battle against apartheid. 'President Castro identified with our struggle against apartheid. He inspired the Cuban people to join us in our own struggle against apartheid,' Zuma said in a statement. French President Francois Hollande mourned the loss of a major figure on the world stage and welcomed the rapprochement between Havana and Washington, but noted concerns over human rights under the Castro regime. 'Fidel Castro was a towering figure of the 20th century. He incarnated the Cuban revolution, in both its hopes and subsequent disillusionments,' Hollande said in a statement.
'France, which condemned human rights abuses in Cuba, had equally challenged the U.S. embargo on Cuba, and France was glad to see the two countries re-establish dialogue and open ties between themselves,' added the Socialist party leader. Hollande met Fidel Castro in May, 2015 during the first ever visit by a French head of state to Cuba since the Cuban revolution. British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said: 'Fidel Castro's death marks the end of an era for Cuba and the start of a new one for Cuba's people.' Irish president Michael D Higgins said Castro guided Cuba 'through a remarkable process of social and political change, advocating a development path that was unique and determinedly independent'. He added that Castro would be remembered as a 'giant'. In a statement released after the 90-year-old's death, he said: 'Fidel Castro will be remembered as a giant among global leaders whose view was not only one of freedom for his people but for all of the oppressed and excluded peoples on the planet.' On Saturday morning, U.S. President-Elect Donald Trump tweeted: 'Fidel Castro is dead!'
In the streets of Havana, the announcement was met with surprise. Mariela Alonso, a 45-year-old doctor, described the retired Cuban leader 'the guide for our people'. She said: 'There will be no one else like him. We will feel his physical absence.' Mechanic Celestino Acosta was sitting on a porch in the capital's central neighborhood of Vedado. He called the news of Castro's death 'a painful blow for everyone'.
Castro survived a number of US-backed assassination plots, as well as numerous media reports throughout the years that falsely claimed he was dead or nearly there. But Castro, who four years ago bragged he didn't 'even remember what a headache is', remained active in his final months even as his public appearances became increasingly rare. This summer he met with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping and in August celebrated his 90th birthday. Castro thanked fellow Cubans for their well wishes and lambasted his old foe the United States in a column carried by state-run media. Cuba went into overdrive to honor the retired 'El Comandante', who built a Communist-run state on the doorstep of the United States. Even in his old age, Castro remained as critical as ever of President Obama and frequently spoke out against him in his published opinion pieces. Castro blasted Obama's visit to Hiroshima in May, saying the president 'lacked the words to ask for forgiveness for the killings of hundreds of thousands of people'.
In his last opinion piece, in March, Castro accused Obama of sweet-talking the Cuban people during his visit to the island - the first by a US leader in 88 years - and of ignoring the accomplishments of Communist rule. Castro survived long enough to see Raul negotiate an opening with Obama on December 17, 2014, when Washington and Havana announced they would move to restore diplomatic ties for the first time since they were severed in 1961. Fidel cautiously blessed the historic deal with his lifelong enemy in a letter published after a month-long silence. 'I don't trust the policy of the United States, nor have I exchanged a word with them, but this does not mean I reject a pacific solution to the conflicts,' he wrote. Considered more pragmatic, the younger Castro also introduced market-style reforms to the state-dominated economy and increased personal freedoms, such as the right to travel abroad that many Cubans celebrated. Yet others still revered Fidel for freeing the country from US domination and introducing universal, free healthcare and education. Castro's reign over the island-nation 90 miles from Florida was marked by the US-backed Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961 and the Cuban Missile Crisis a year later, which nearly brought the world to the brink of nuclear war. He overcame imprisonment at the hands of dictator Fulgencio Batista, exile in Mexico and a disastrous start to his rebellion before triumphantly riding into Havana in January 1959 to become, at age 32, the youngest leader in Latin America. For decades, he served as an inspiration and source of support to revolutionaries from Latin America to Africa. 'Socialism or death' remained Castro's rallying cry even as Western-style democracy swept the globe and other communist regimes in China and Vietnam embraced capitalism
While his brother Raul was his closest confidant and successor as president, his sister Juana, exiled in south Florida, called Fidel a 'monster' to whom she had not spoken in more than four decades. His eldest son Fidelito, long Castro's only officially-recognised child, was a nuclear scientist in Cuba. His eldest daughter Alina Fernandez, born from an affair with a married socialite who remained on the island decades later, attacked her father on exile radio from Miami. Before he was El Comandante, Castro - born August 13, 1926 - was the son of a Spanish immigrant father who recruited labor for US sugar companies before building up a prosperous plantation of his own. Castro attended Jesuit schools, then the University of Havana, where he received law and social science degrees. His life as a rebel began in 1953 with a reckless attack on the Moncada military barracks in the eastern city of Santiago. Most of his comrades were killed and Fidel and Raul went to prison. Fidel turned his trial defense into a manifesto that he smuggled out of jail, famously declaring, 'History will absolve me.' Freed under a pardon, Castro fled to Mexico and organized a rebel band that returned in 1956, sailing across the Gulf of Mexico to Cuba on a yacht named Granma.
After losing most of his group in a bungled landing Castro, with the help of brother Raul and legendary guerrilla fighter Ernesto 'Che' Guevarra, rallied support in Cuba's eastern Sierra Maestra mountains. Three years later, tens of thousands spilled into the streets of Havana to celebrate Batista's downfall and catch a glimpse of Castro as his rebel caravan arrived in the capital on January 8, 1959. The US was among the first to formally recognize his government, cautiously trusting Castro's early assurances he merely wanted to restore democracy - not install socialism. But Castro was quick to silence his critics, closing independent newspapers and ordering the deaths of at least 582 members of the old government, who were gunned down by firing squads, over the course of two years. Homosexuals in the country were herded into camps for 're-education' and HIV-positive citizens were quarantined. In 1964, Castro acknowledged holding 15,000 political prisoners. Hundreds of thousands of Cubans fled, including Castro's daughter Alina Fernandez Revuelta and his younger sister Juana. Still, the revolution thrilled millions in Cuba and across Latin America who saw it as an example of how the seemingly arrogant Yankees could be defied.
And many on the island were happy to see the seizure of property of the landed class, the expulsion of American gangsters and the closure of their casinos. Castro's speeches, lasting up to six hours, became the soundtrack of Cuban life and his 269-minute speech to the UN General Assembly in 1960 set the world body's record for length that still stands more than five decades later. As Castro moved into the Soviet bloc, Washington began working to oust him, cutting US purchases of sugar, the island's economic mainstay. Castro, in turn, confiscated $1billion in US assets. The American government imposed a trade embargo, banning virtually all US exports to the island except for food and medicine, and severed diplomatic ties in 1961. On April 16 of that year, Castro declared his revolution to be socialist. The very next day the CIA sent 1,400 Cuban exiles to take down Castro in the failed Bay of Pigs invasion, an international embarrassment for then-president John F Kennedy. The debacle forced the US to give up on the idea of invading Cuba, but that didn't stop Washington and Castro's exiled enemies from trying to get rid of its leader. By Cuban count, Castro was the target of more than 630 assassination plots by militant Cuban exiles or the US government. Tensions between the two countries only increased when Kennedy announced there were Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba. He imposed a naval blockade of the island and, after a tense 13-day standoff, Soviet leader Nikita Krushchev removed them. The Cuban Missile Crisis, as it became known, put the world at the brink of nuclear war - and hurt relations between Cuba and the US even more.
'Castro is not just another Latin American dictator, a petty tyrant bent merely on personal power and gain,' Kennedy said at the time. 'His ambitions extend far beyond his own shores.' President Jimmy Carter would try to improve relations with Cuba after he took office in 1977, even re-establishing diplomatic missions and negotiating the release of thousands of prisoners. But conflicts over Cuba's military mission in Africa, tension caused by a flood of Cuban refugees in 1980 and the election of Ronald Reagan end the rapprochement. As the end of the Cold War eased global tensions, many Latin American and European countries re-established relations with Cuba. The Obama administration officially removed Cuba from a US terrorism blacklist and relations between the two countries were fully restored on July 20, 2015. John Kerry flew to Havana a month later, becoming the first US Secretary of State to visit the country since 1945. He attended a ceremonial flag-raising outside the newly reopened embassy. Cuba's flag now lies in Washington too. As flamboyant as he was in public, Castro tried to lead a discreet private life. He and his first wife, Mirta Diaz Balart, had one son before divorcing in 1956. Then, for more than four decades, Castro had a relationship with Dalia Soto del Valle. They had five sons together and were said to have married quietly in 1980. Castro was rumored to have hundreds of lovers, and once said in a Vanity Fair interview that the number of children he fathered was 'almost a tribe'. By the time Castro resigned 49 years after his triumphant arrival in Havana, he was the world's longest ruling head of government, aside from monarchs. In retirement, Castro voiced unwavering support as Raul slowly but deliberately enacted sweeping changes to the Marxist system he had built. Castro would even recognize some of his government's brutal human rights abuses, saying it's treatment of gays was an 'injustice'. In 2010 Castro said during an interview that the 'Cuban model [of communism] doesn't even work for us anymore', although he later claimed the comment was taken out of context. But Castro's longevity allowed the younger brother to consolidate control, perhaps lengthening the revolution well past both men's lives. In February 2013, Raul announced that he would retire as president in 2018 and named newly minted Vice President Miguel Diaz-Canel as his successor. As the tributes began to pour in from world leaders early Saturday morning, hundreds of Cuban-Americans took to the streets of Little Havana in Miami to celebrate his death. The revelers banged pots and pans to express their joy at the demise of the man who had driven them or their relatives to flee their homeland. Car horns filled the air and the crowd grew as people continued to cheer and sing in Spanish and wave Cuban flags. Castro's death was also celebrated by Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the first Cuban-American elected to Congress, who said it marked a 'new chapter in the history of Cuba'.
'The day that the people, both inside the island and out, have waited for has arrived: A tyrant is dead and a new beginning can dawn on the last remaining communist bastion of the Western hemisphere,' she said. 'Those who still rule Cuba with an iron grip may attempt to delay the island’s liberation, but they cannot stop it.' Historic figure of the 20th century To some, Castro became a romantic figure and a legendary survivor despite what Cuban officials say were more than 600 attempts to kill him. During a rare public appearance in April, Castro marveled that he had lived to his ninth decade. "Soon I will turn 90 years old, never would such a thing have occurred to me, and it's not the outcome of any effort; it was fate's whim," Castro said, discussing his health, usually a taboo subject on the island. "Soon I will be like everyone else. To all of us comes our turn." Castro had many admirers, who saw him as a stalwart with his ubiquitous military fatigues and fiery oratory. He clung to a socialist economic model and one-party Communist rule, even after the Soviet Union disintegrated and most of the rest of the world concluded that state socialism was an idea whose time had come and gone. The Cuban Communist Party mourned for "the commander of the Cuban Revolution" with the hashtag . Chinese President Xi Jinping hailed Castro as a "great leader" for the Cuban people and said China had lost "an intimate and sincere friend," according to a statement read out on Chinese state TV.
"He achieved immortal historical achievements for the development of world socialism. He was the great person of our era, and people and history will remember him," Xi said. "Great Castro will live forever. " Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto called Castro a friend of Mexico, who had promoted bilateral relationships based on "respect, dialogue and solidarity." In an official Kremlin statement sending condolences to the Cuban people, Russian President Vladimir Putin remembered him as a "symbol of an era in recent world history" and "a sincere and reliable friend of Russia." Putin saluted Castro for building a "free and independent Cuba" and described him as "an influential member of the international community." Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev said he and Castro had become "very good friends," in comments reported by Russian state news agency Tass, and that the Cuban "was an outstanding personality, unique." Pakistani politician Imran Khan hailed Castro as "an iconic revolutionary leader" who stood against the United States.
Many viewed Castro as an enemy of human rights, who suppressed and imprisoned dissidents. "I am shedding tears tonight, but they're tears of joy," said Armando Salguero, a Miami Herald columnist. "Hell has a special place for Fidel Castro and there's one less vacancy in hell tonight." He said many Cubans were cheering, because they had been forced to come to the United States when they couldn't have the freedom to make a life in their homeland.
Repressive laws allow the government to jail and punish its critics, such as dissidents and journalists with long prison sentences, according to Human Rights Watch. The government also uses beatings and public acts of shaming, the organization reported. US Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who represents a district in South Florida, tweeted, "Tyrant + thug Fidel Castro is dead," saying his death was an opportunity to have a free and democratic Cuba.

Communist revolutionary Fidel Castro ( Our Red star ) dies aged 90: Cuba declares nine days of national mourning


Castro died at 10.29pm on Friday night, his brother Raul Castro announced on Cuban state TV The controversial leader led Cuba for nearly half a century as both prime minister and president Vladimir Putin has branded him the 'symbol of an era' and a 'distinguished statesman' French President Francois Hollande branded him a 'towering figure', but voiced concerns about human rights abuses in Cuba Castro made his last official appearance before the country's Communist party in April and predicted that his death was near He claimed in the past to have survived 634 assassination attempts Castro was 32 when he overthrew dictator Fulgencio Batista's government in 1959, becoming Cuba's prime minister The US severed diplomatic ties in 1961, banning all exports to Cuba except for food and medicine Castro's brother Raul and President Obama moved to restore diplomatic ties in December 2014
As large crowds of Cuban exiles gathered in Miami to celebrate his death US Congress representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Cuban-American Republican from Miami, described Castro as a 'tyrant' Fidel Castro, who led his native Cuba for nearly half a century and claimed to have survived more than 600 assassination attempts, has died at the age of 90. With a shaking voice, his younger brother, Raul Castro, announced on state television that the Communist revolutionary died on Friday night. World leaders have paid tribute to the revolutionary, who came to power in 1959, with former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev praising him for 'strengthening' his island nation.
Russian President Vladimir Putin described him as a 'symbol of an era', and said he was a 'distinguished statesman', and Pope Francis has said Castro's death is 'sad news'. Nine days of public mourning for the deceased Cuban leader have been announced, when 'public activities and shows' will cease, and flags will fly at half mast. The island's Council of State says state radio and television 'will maintain informative, patriotic and historic programming'. Castro's ashes will be buried in the historic southeastern city of Santiago on December 4 after a four-day procession through the country. Raul Castro, who succeeded his brother in 2006, told Cubans in the television announcement: 'Today, November 25, at 10.29pm, the Commander in Chief of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro Ruz, passed away. 'In compliance with the expressed will of Companion Fidel, his remains will be cremated.' He concluded his statement by saying: 'Onward to victory. Castro's death comes just months after the Communist revolutionary predicted that his time on earth was nearly up.
Among the first world figures to pay tribute to Castro was former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, who praised him for 'strengthening' his island nation. Gorbachev said: 'Fidel stood up and strengthened his country during the harshest American blockade, when there was colossal pressure on him and he still took his country out of this blockade to a path of independent development.' And current Russian President Vladimir Putin said: 'The name of this distinguished statesman is rightly considered the symbol of an era in modern world history. Fidel Castro was a sincere and reliable friend of Russia.' Putin added that Castro has managed to build a 'free and independent Cuba' that 'became an influential member of the international community and served as an inspiration for many countries and peoples'. Pope Francis has said Castro's death was 'sad news', and in a message to Raul, said:'I express to you my sentiments of grief.'
The Kremlin strongman hailed Castro as a 'strong and wise person who always looked to the future with confidence'. 'He embodied the high ideals of a politician, a citizen and a patriot sincerely convinced of the rightness of the cause to which he dedicated his whole life,' Putin said. 'His memory will forever remain in the hearts of the citizens of Russia.' Putin also said that Castro had made a 'huge personal contribution' in the establishment and development of the countries' bilateral relations. Castro made his last official appearance before the country's Communist Party in April, asking party members to help keep his ideas alive long after he died. 'The time will come for all of us, but the ideas of the Cuban Communists will remain as proof on this planet that if they are worked at with fervor and dignity, they can produce the material and cultural goods that human beings need,' he told them. Castro spoke as the government announced that his brother Raul will retain the Cuban Communist Party's highest post alongside his hardline second-in-command.
It was a resounding message that communism would retain its hold on Cuba, even as its leaders begin to die and age and icy relations with the US continue to thaw. Castro officially handed power to his brother Raul in 2008, two years after he required emergency surgery for intestinal bleeding. Raul Castro had been made acting president in 2006. As news of Castro's death broke, world leaders paid tribute to the revolutionary. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi described him as 'one of the most iconic personalities of the 20th century', and said: 'India mourns the loss of a great friend. I extend my deepest condolences to the Government and people of Cuba on the sad demise of Fidel Castro. May his soul rest in peace.' Latin American leaders voiced their sorrow at Castro's death. In Bolivia, where Castro ally Ernesto 'Che' Guevara died in 1967 in a failed bid to export Cuba's revolution, President Evo Morales said in a statement: 'Fidel Castro left us a legacy of having fought for the integration of the world's peoples ... The departure of Comandante Fidel Castro really hurts And Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa said: 'A great has left us. Fidel has died. Long live Cuba! Long live Latin America!' Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto said: 'Fidel Castro was a friend of Mexico, promoter of a bilateral relationship based on respect, dialogue and solidarity.' And Salvador Sanchez Ceren, President of El Salvador, tweeted: 'With deep sorrow we received news of the death of my dear friend and eternal companion, Commander Fidel Castro Ruz.' In Venezuela, a long-time ally of Cuba and staunch opponent of the political stance of the United States, President Nicolas Maduro said Castro had inspired and would continue to inspire his country.
'We will keep on winning and keep fighting. Fidel Castro is an example of the fight for all the people of the world. We will go forward with his legacy,' Maduro told television station Telesur by telephone. South African President Jacob Zuma hailed Castro for his help supporting the battle against apartheid. 'President Castro identified with our struggle against apartheid. He inspired the Cuban people to join us in our own struggle against apartheid,' Zuma said in a statement. French President Francois Hollande mourned the loss of a major figure on the world stage and welcomed the rapprochement between Havana and Washington, but noted concerns over human rights under the Castro regime. 'Fidel Castro was a towering figure of the 20th century. He incarnated the Cuban revolution, in both its hopes and subsequent disillusionments,' Hollande said in a statement.
'France, which condemned human rights abuses in Cuba, had equally challenged the U.S. embargo on Cuba, and France was glad to see the two countries re-establish dialogue and open ties between themselves,' added the Socialist party leader. Hollande met Fidel Castro in May, 2015 during the first ever visit by a French head of state to Cuba since the Cuban revolution. British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said: 'Fidel Castro's death marks the end of an era for Cuba and the start of a new one for Cuba's people.' Irish president Michael D Higgins said Castro guided Cuba 'through a remarkable process of social and political change, advocating a development path that was unique and determinedly independent'. He added that Castro would be remembered as a 'giant'. In a statement released after the 90-year-old's death, he said: 'Fidel Castro will be remembered as a giant among global leaders whose view was not only one of freedom for his people but for all of the oppressed and excluded peoples on the planet.' On Saturday morning, U.S. President-Elect Donald Trump tweeted: 'Fidel Castro is dead!'
In the streets of Havana, the announcement was met with surprise. Mariela Alonso, a 45-year-old doctor, described the retired Cuban leader 'the guide for our people'. She said: 'There will be no one else like him. We will feel his physical absence.' Mechanic Celestino Acosta was sitting on a porch in the capital's central neighborhood of Vedado. He called the news of Castro's death 'a painful blow for everyone'.
Castro survived a number of US-backed assassination plots, as well as numerous media reports throughout the years that falsely claimed he was dead or nearly there. But Castro, who four years ago bragged he didn't 'even remember what a headache is', remained active in his final months even as his public appearances became increasingly rare. This summer he met with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping and in August celebrated his 90th birthday. Castro thanked fellow Cubans for their well wishes and lambasted his old foe the United States in a column carried by state-run media. Cuba went into overdrive to honor the retired 'El Comandante', who built a Communist-run state on the doorstep of the United States. Even in his old age, Castro remained as critical as ever of President Obama and frequently spoke out against him in his published opinion pieces. Castro blasted Obama's visit to Hiroshima in May, saying the president 'lacked the words to ask for forgiveness for the killings of hundreds of thousands of people'.
In his last opinion piece, in March, Castro accused Obama of sweet-talking the Cuban people during his visit to the island - the first by a US leader in 88 years - and of ignoring the accomplishments of Communist rule. Castro survived long enough to see Raul negotiate an opening with Obama on December 17, 2014, when Washington and Havana announced they would move to restore diplomatic ties for the first time since they were severed in 1961. Fidel cautiously blessed the historic deal with his lifelong enemy in a letter published after a month-long silence. 'I don't trust the policy of the United States, nor have I exchanged a word with them, but this does not mean I reject a pacific solution to the conflicts,' he wrote. Considered more pragmatic, the younger Castro also introduced market-style reforms to the state-dominated economy and increased personal freedoms, such as the right to travel abroad that many Cubans celebrated. Yet others still revered Fidel for freeing the country from US domination and introducing universal, free healthcare and education. Castro's reign over the island-nation 90 miles from Florida was marked by the US-backed Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961 and the Cuban Missile Crisis a year later, which nearly brought the world to the brink of nuclear war. He overcame imprisonment at the hands of dictator Fulgencio Batista, exile in Mexico and a disastrous start to his rebellion before triumphantly riding into Havana in January 1959 to become, at age 32, the youngest leader in Latin America. For decades, he served as an inspiration and source of support to revolutionaries from Latin America to Africa. 'Socialism or death' remained Castro's rallying cry even as Western-style democracy swept the globe and other communist regimes in China and Vietnam embraced capitalism
While his brother Raul was his closest confidant and successor as president, his sister Juana, exiled in south Florida, called Fidel a 'monster' to whom she had not spoken in more than four decades. His eldest son Fidelito, long Castro's only officially-recognised child, was a nuclear scientist in Cuba. His eldest daughter Alina Fernandez, born from an affair with a married socialite who remained on the island decades later, attacked her father on exile radio from Miami. Before he was El Comandante, Castro - born August 13, 1926 - was the son of a Spanish immigrant father who recruited labor for US sugar companies before building up a prosperous plantation of his own. Castro attended Jesuit schools, then the University of Havana, where he received law and social science degrees. His life as a rebel began in 1953 with a reckless attack on the Moncada military barracks in the eastern city of Santiago. Most of his comrades were killed and Fidel and Raul went to prison. Fidel turned his trial defense into a manifesto that he smuggled out of jail, famously declaring, 'History will absolve me.' Freed under a pardon, Castro fled to Mexico and organized a rebel band that returned in 1956, sailing across the Gulf of Mexico to Cuba on a yacht named Granma.
After losing most of his group in a bungled landing Castro, with the help of brother Raul and legendary guerrilla fighter Ernesto 'Che' Guevarra, rallied support in Cuba's eastern Sierra Maestra mountains. Three years later, tens of thousands spilled into the streets of Havana to celebrate Batista's downfall and catch a glimpse of Castro as his rebel caravan arrived in the capital on January 8, 1959. The US was among the first to formally recognize his government, cautiously trusting Castro's early assurances he merely wanted to restore democracy - not install socialism. But Castro was quick to silence his critics, closing independent newspapers and ordering the deaths of at least 582 members of the old government, who were gunned down by firing squads, over the course of two years. Homosexuals in the country were herded into camps for 're-education' and HIV-positive citizens were quarantined. In 1964, Castro acknowledged holding 15,000 political prisoners. Hundreds of thousands of Cubans fled, including Castro's daughter Alina Fernandez Revuelta and his younger sister Juana. Still, the revolution thrilled millions in Cuba and across Latin America who saw it as an example of how the seemingly arrogant Yankees could be defied.
And many on the island were happy to see the seizure of property of the landed class, the expulsion of American gangsters and the closure of their casinos. Castro's speeches, lasting up to six hours, became the soundtrack of Cuban life and his 269-minute speech to the UN General Assembly in 1960 set the world body's record for length that still stands more than five decades later. As Castro moved into the Soviet bloc, Washington began working to oust him, cutting US purchases of sugar, the island's economic mainstay. Castro, in turn, confiscated $1billion in US assets. The American government imposed a trade embargo, banning virtually all US exports to the island except for food and medicine, and severed diplomatic ties in 1961. On April 16 of that year, Castro declared his revolution to be socialist. The very next day the CIA sent 1,400 Cuban exiles to take down Castro in the failed Bay of Pigs invasion, an international embarrassment for then-president John F Kennedy. The debacle forced the US to give up on the idea of invading Cuba, but that didn't stop Washington and Castro's exiled enemies from trying to get rid of its leader. By Cuban count, Castro was the target of more than 630 assassination plots by militant Cuban exiles or the US government. Tensions between the two countries only increased when Kennedy announced there were Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba. He imposed a naval blockade of the island and, after a tense 13-day standoff, Soviet leader Nikita Krushchev removed them. The Cuban Missile Crisis, as it became known, put the world at the brink of nuclear war - and hurt relations between Cuba and the US even more.
'Castro is not just another Latin American dictator, a petty tyrant bent merely on personal power and gain,' Kennedy said at the time. 'His ambitions extend far beyond his own shores.' President Jimmy Carter would try to improve relations with Cuba after he took office in 1977, even re-establishing diplomatic missions and negotiating the release of thousands of prisoners. But conflicts over Cuba's military mission in Africa, tension caused by a flood of Cuban refugees in 1980 and the election of Ronald Reagan end the rapprochement. As the end of the Cold War eased global tensions, many Latin American and European countries re-established relations with Cuba. The Obama administration officially removed Cuba from a US terrorism blacklist and relations between the two countries were fully restored on July 20, 2015. John Kerry flew to Havana a month later, becoming the first US Secretary of State to visit the country since 1945. He attended a ceremonial flag-raising outside the newly reopened embassy. Cuba's flag now lies in Washington too. As flamboyant as he was in public, Castro tried to lead a discreet private life. He and his first wife, Mirta Diaz Balart, had one son before divorcing in 1956. Then, for more than four decades, Castro had a relationship with Dalia Soto del Valle. They had five sons together and were said to have married quietly in 1980. Castro was rumored to have hundreds of lovers, and once said in a Vanity Fair interview that the number of children he fathered was 'almost a tribe'. By the time Castro resigned 49 years after his triumphant arrival in Havana, he was the world's longest ruling head of government, aside from monarchs. In retirement, Castro voiced unwavering support as Raul slowly but deliberately enacted sweeping changes to the Marxist system he had built. Castro would even recognize some of his government's brutal human rights abuses, saying it's treatment of gays was an 'injustice'. In 2010 Castro said during an interview that the 'Cuban model [of communism] doesn't even work for us anymore', although he later claimed the comment was taken out of context. But Castro's longevity allowed the younger brother to consolidate control, perhaps lengthening the revolution well past both men's lives. In February 2013, Raul announced that he would retire as president in 2018 and named newly minted Vice President Miguel Diaz-Canel as his successor. As the tributes began to pour in from world leaders early Saturday morning, hundreds of Cuban-Americans took to the streets of Little Havana in Miami to celebrate his death. The revelers banged pots and pans to express their joy at the demise of the man who had driven them or their relatives to flee their homeland. Car horns filled the air and the crowd grew as people continued to cheer and sing in Spanish and wave Cuban flags. Castro's death was also celebrated by Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the first Cuban-American elected to Congress, who said it marked a 'new chapter in the history of Cuba'.
'The day that the people, both inside the island and out, have waited for has arrived: A tyrant is dead and a new beginning can dawn on the last remaining communist bastion of the Western hemisphere,' she said. 'Those who still rule Cuba with an iron grip may attempt to delay the island’s liberation, but they cannot stop it.' Historic figure of the 20th century To some, Castro became a romantic figure and a legendary survivor despite what Cuban officials say were more than 600 attempts to kill him. During a rare public appearance in April, Castro marveled that he had lived to his ninth decade. "Soon I will turn 90 years old, never would such a thing have occurred to me, and it's not the outcome of any effort; it was fate's whim," Castro said, discussing his health, usually a taboo subject on the island. "Soon I will be like everyone else. To all of us comes our turn." Castro had many admirers, who saw him as a stalwart with his ubiquitous military fatigues and fiery oratory. He clung to a socialist economic model and one-party Communist rule, even after the Soviet Union disintegrated and most of the rest of the world concluded that state socialism was an idea whose time had come and gone. The Cuban Communist Party mourned for "the commander of the Cuban Revolution" with the hashtag . Chinese President Xi Jinping hailed Castro as a "great leader" for the Cuban people and said China had lost "an intimate and sincere friend," according to a statement read out on Chinese state TV. "He achieved immortal historical achievements for the development of world socialism. He was the great person of our era, and people and history will remember him," Xi said. "Great Castro will live forever. " Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto called Castro a friend of Mexico, who had promoted bilateral relationships based on "respect, dialogue and solidarity." In an official Kremlin statement sending condolences to the Cuban people, Russian President Vladimir Putin remembered him as a "symbol of an era in recent world history" and "a sincere and reliable friend of Russia." Putin saluted Castro for building a "free and independent Cuba" and described him as "an influential member of the international community." Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev said he and Castro had become "very good friends," in comments reported by Russian state news agency Tass, and that the Cuban "was an outstanding personality, unique." Pakistani politician Imran Khan hailed Castro as "an iconic revolutionary leader" who stood against the United States. Many viewed Castro as an enemy of human rights, who suppressed and imprisoned dissidents. "I am shedding tears tonight, but they're tears of joy," said Armando Salguero, a Miami Herald columnist. "Hell has a special place for Fidel Castro and there's one less vacancy in hell tonight." He said many Cubans were cheering, because they had been forced to come to the United States when they couldn't have the freedom to make a life in their homeland. Repressive laws allow the government to jail and punish its critics, such as dissidents and journalists with long prison sentences, according to Human Rights Watch. The government also uses beatings and public acts of shaming, the organization reported. US Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who represents a district in South Florida, tweeted, "Tyrant + thug Fidel Castro is dead," saying his death was an opportunity to have a free and democratic Cuba.