Transcript for Special Report: Former Cuban President Fidel Castro Has Died
This is an ABC news special. And good evening everyone I'm Jonathan that's an ABC news world headquarters in New York we are in erupting our programming to bring you some breaking news. ABC news has learned the long time Cuban leader Fidel Castro has died. He was ninety years old his death was announced by his brother Raoul on Cuban state television just a few moments ago. Fidel Castro ruled Cuba for close to fifty years seizing power in the Cuban revolution of 1959. Before eventually handing over control to his brother role in 2008. ABC's Jim -- a lot has more on the life of the revolutionary figure. See for a half century Fidel Castro ruled Cuba while the world changed around. Fifty years of isolation. Finally ended only after he left power. It only would his tacit blessing. Castro remained skeptical and suspicious of the US right up to his death defiantly commenting after president Obama's historic visit. That Cuba will never forget the Bay of Pigs invasion and does not need America. His defense of his Communist revolution never faltering. I on the Communist and Marxist socialist Communist. I am not afraid to say I am a Communist. Fidel Castro was born in 1926 out of wedlock to a wealthy Cuban land owner and his me. He went to Catholic schools have been studied law. His two passions were baseball he was very good at and politics he became an activist with the pour and working class. In 1956. After being expelled by Cuba's American supported dictator Fulgencio Batista. Castro would turn secretly with his brother role. Argentinean Marxist rebel leader Che Guevara and others they hit out in the Sierra my Esther mountains from which they waged a guerrilla war. Yeah. Castro finally expelled but he stood and took over. Fidelity promised democracy but squashed all dissent with jail or expulsions. Even executions. He nationalized all US businesses. In 1961. President John F. Kennedy just elected approved the CIA trained invasion force of thirteen hundred Cuban exiles who went ashore at the Bay of Pigs. Castro demolish them and a huge propaganda victory. In 1962. American spy planes discovered Castro had left the Soviets. Put nuclear missiles in Cuba. It shall be the policy of this nation. To re god any nuclear missile launch from Cuba are against any nation in the Western Hemisphere. As an attack. By the Soviet Union on the United States. Ones yes we were very close to the nuclear war extremely close. Ultimately the Soviets remove the missiles could go continued to promote leftist movements in Latin America what he remained popular until his death. Even Castro's critics praise his advances in health care and an education. But the inefficiency of Cuba's Soviet style economy produced dissent. In 1980 more than a 10025000. Cubans some expelled many allowed to just leave. Braved rough seas and dehydration to come to the United States in the Mariel boatlift. In the early 1990s the fall of the USSR. Cost Cuba billions of dollars in Soviet aid and trade leading to widespread shortages. And rationing this happens you'll literally and so you do with the demise of the Soviet Union than we have suffered in the equivalent to a treason. We have to will be ready and Eagleton recently. Castro fought back by courting tourism and business. In 2006. Just before intestinal surgery he gave up power temporarily to his younger brother role. He never took the reins again made it official in 2008 but he was not totally gun. It started writing newspaper columns receiving visitors including Hugo Chavez of Venezuela then suddenly in the summer of 2010. He began displaying his indomitable drive again in public. Giving TV interview. Laying flowers at the new with the following exhorting the Communist youth in addressing the Cuban partner. Now the world will see how a new era of Cuban American diplomacy changes his island home with Fidel Castro gun. And the Americans gradually returning it may be no longer Fidel Castro's Cuba. And ABC's Jim novel are now joins us on the phone Jim has been to Cuba many many times and Jim this of course comes just after those historic thawing of relations between Cuba the United States. How do you think this might now affect change in Cuba. Well I think it'll continue on this same course at this point I think the changes in the United States actually might one aspect. On the on what's going on in Cuba today there who opened the change he could tell Castro because while Fidel Castro was considered even to this. Do this day. The George Washington of his country among those who remain in Cuba. He'll also quick to fight the figure. And he is clear that recently sort of faded into the into the woodwork. Well wolf it was taken over and he really is well usually been running with dated a government and a Fidel is not fidelity. But they'll fidelity and doing really is writing. Trying to be the conscience of Cuba more than the rule or else you. What you remained you know to his death a very important figure. While he was that because of his nationally because of what he meant to the people. He meant to that the deputy curricula would not be dominated by the United States. Even though the United States is so big and so close. And so Jim looking at this and we're looking at the historic footage of Fidel Castro and you can't help but think about his legacy after all of these years what do you think will be. We'll be the word of historians when they look back at the life of Fidel Castro. Well I think he'll be be most prominent figure in Cuba. Perhaps only overshadowed. In the in the a little bit by Dave marquis who is the author who in the 19100. Both wrote about Cuba with becoming debris. But they'll cast could change the course security change the way people look you know in 1959. In my 58. Hugo was pretty much but satellite the United States and run by the United States. Run by the United States mafia all those casinos and all those lies all all that life leads dance they put it receipt. Cuba. That was all run by the mafia. The United States market. And that she did Castro came in and he cleaned that out. Not only did he do that he's he's revered in his country and in Cuba. Or. Changing the class system there was a huge class system in Cuba with tilt. And the peasant class didn't know how to read or write most the people of Cuba didn't ought to read write in 1960. And in fact they didn't have medical care of any kind and there without electricity outside Urbana. Sold Castro came into power he spent money on those things. They have a they have a very good education system that was very good medical system and they have electricity all over the island. Do they have all the freedoms that the United States. Do they do not in the people there who want those freedoms and end why they many of them will be happy to see Castro gone. Right now pretty it will not change his place in history. I meant a lot of people will be celebrating that news without question we just saw a few moments ago video of Raul Castro making that announcement just a few short moments ago that. Fidel Castro the longtime leader of Cuba. Has died at the age of ninety. Our Jonathan Karl is also on the phone with us and Jonathan I mean Cuba and Castro have been such a fixture in a foreign policy for the United States. This is certainly going to resonate in Washington. Actually meet Fidel Castro. Is in nemesis of school many presidents. What do you think he survived. A Levy and different American presidents. Each of them since Kennedy. Saw Castro has. An enemy of the United States as an abuser. Of human rights he was somebody. Who loomed large because he was an enemy just ninety miles from the shores of the United States. It's somebody who is allied with the Soviet Union during the Cold War outlasted the Cold War. But somebody who. Looms and has loomed that is the that is incredibly large in in in. But large shock of American history going back decades you know. And John thinly you know with President Obama of deciding to try to warm relations with Cuba and with the Castro. Family after all these years how much hope is there in Washington that Raul Castro. Might make some real changes that the united safe and welcome. Well there's there's not much. Hoped US policy makers are there would be significant change. Under under Raul Castro but they're certainly has been a major. Changes in US policy. But that was initiated by President Obama so think he eat he wins a place that it did again no American president since. Since Kennedy relief the thought of going up we establishing relations we do reopening its. In Cuba. If it's Steve. Stated goals President Obama took to lifted the the trade embargo on and on Cuba. But you know that you were Raul Castro has effectively. And leaving Cuba for a decade now. And you know that as. Certainly been changes in the island there's Desmond. A moral well opening up of the economic system. The very due to the willingness. On the battle but Castro to engage Raul Castro issue to engage the United States would have put effectively. But the real change did did it has been expected and predicted in urged by so many US political figures. That the the belief is that that would have to come not just after Fidel Castro but after old Castro as well. Yeah it's amazing how much has changed in that country in such a relatively short out of time now Jim as we mention you have spent a lot of time in Cuba. Role as we mentioned has been in charge for for several years now. What do you think may happen next and how do you think this might impact rolls rule. Well I think that there personal I don't think role Castro will make the dramatic changes beyond what's going on now the opening of tourism. And economic issues. That are opening more quickly but not even the usual economic. Advances subdural Castro I think what's what's been going on his. It is. Does that stick to it is waiting. The Cuban island itself is waiting for low pass through as well. Everyone role Castro sat with the way. Then the next generation of leadership is really the one. What they expect some kind of changes now. The American people and Miami and in the United States who worried all along local but the curator Don. Fidel death because they believe that the Cubans will revolt at as soon as they see an opening. And will. It will be a bit they'll be another revolution against both because they're dealt no longer there. I don't think that could have I don't think there's any chance of that happening I think would be Cuban government and Cubans militaries of other strong hold of that. And that islands. It would be very difficult you know there are no weapons of that island besides those who are owned by the military. And there's no way or. It would be very difficult for there to beat the revolution there are now it's gonna be years before there's any significant change but they'll cast who were being. The symbol. Freedom. From the US from the United States. Core many of the people there put it this symbol of independence. You know I've seen him I've been an issue about 35 times. That him personally who was three times while he was still on August. He was a hero then. To the people who wrote in the streets who weren't allowed to walk around with women and eager. He had a status above all others. In that country not popular in this country among Cuban American but he Cuba very popular. Ten for those of us just joining us again ABC news has learned a long time Cuban leader Fidel Castro has died at the age of ninety his death was announced just a short time ago. On Cuban state TV by his brother Raoul. Fidel Castro ruled Cuba for close to fifty year seizing power. In the Cuban revolution of 1959. Before she mentioned handing power over to. His brother role in 2008. So the world will now see how a new era of Cuban American diplomacy changes that island. With Fidel Castro now gone and the Americans gradually returning as we mentioned. It may no longer be for Dell's Castro's Cuba as we've talked about and should. And so and so John as as we'd look at business a news develops over the coming hours and overnight. Into tomorrow what do you expect the reaction to be in Cuba but also in the United States. We did it it I think the most interesting thing to watch will be President Obama who made. Such a bold and controversial move and reopening. Two official diplomatic ties we its Cuba even before. Obama made that step made that move. There was the hand shake the hand shakes out with itself ever. Never personally won't want to met Fidel Castro but he get a handshake we have Raul Castro. Became at Nelson Mandela's. A memorial in South Africa and it was. Hewitt a simple gesture but it was seen is. But by many. In the US political world as incredibly controversial. Because Castro even of the whole board long Bengal and still remain in this this incredibly powerful. Symbol so it'll it'll be watching to see what what the White House does the president. Never had the opportunity and probably would have turned down the opportunity. Two to actually personally meet with Fidel. But he did. Work with his brother and he did reestablish ties and he did become the first American president stepped foot on Cuban soil in 88 years. So. I I assume will cede. Some kind of a you know. War world. It took that to to disturb Fidel Castro but a recognition that even. Even at this late point your latest incredibly rated incredibly controversial figure in Bennett in. In the US. Political world. Incredibly controversial and incredibly polarizing without question a chapter has ended in the Cuban. United States relations Jonathan Karl John marble a thank you so much for your time tonight begin those of you just joining us longtime Cuban leader Fidel Castro has died at the age of ninety. Stay tuned to these ABC news stations for more on this developing story we will have full details on Nightline for those of you on the West Coast of the United States. And much more on Good Morning America and of course you can always find the latest at abcnews.com. I'm Jonathan that's an ABC news will headquarters in New York have a good night. This has been a special. For me he's.
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