Fidel Castro, former president of Cuba and leader of the communist revolution, died at the age of 90, said his brother.
“The commander-in-chief of the Cuban revolution died at 22:29 tonight (03:29 GMT Saturday),” said President Raul Castro.
Fidel Castro judged Cuba as a one-party state for almost 50 years before Raul took over in 2008.
His supporters said he had returned Cuba to the people. But he was also accused of suppressing the opposition.
Ash and grave, President Castro told the nation in an unexpected late-night broadcast on state television that Fidel Castro was dead and would be cremated later on Saturday.
There would now be several days of national mourning on the island.
Raul Castro ended the announcement by shouting the revolutionary slogan: “Towards victory, always!”
With the exception of the occasional newspaper column, Fidel Castro had been basically removed from political life for a while, the BBC Will Grant in Havana reports.
In April, Fidel Castro delivered a rare speech on the last day of the Communist Party Congress.
He acknowledged his advanced age but said that the Cuban communist concepts were still valid and that the Cuban people “will be victorious.”
“I will soon be 90,” said the former president, adding that it was “something I would never have imagined.”
“Soon I will be like all the others,” to all our turn must come, “said Fidel Castro.
Castro – who had survived many assassination plots – was the most ancient non-royal ruler of the twentieth century.
Castro temporarily handed power to his brother in 2006 when he recovered from acute intestinal disease.
Raul Castro officially became president two years later.
Throughout the Cold War, Fidel Castro was a thorn alongside Washington.
Tactician accomplished on the battlefield, he and his small army of guerrillas overthrew the military leader Fulgencio Batista in 1959 to a broad popular support.
In the two years that followed, he declared the Marxist-Leninist revolution and allied the island nation to the Soviet Union.
Still, despite the constant threat of an American invasion as well as the long-standing economic embargo on the island, Castro managed to maintain a communist revolution in a nation just 90 miles (145 km) off Florida.
Despised by his critics as much as he was revered by his supporters, he survived 10 US presidents and challenged dozens of attempts on his life by the CIA.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi called Castro “one of the most iconic personalities of the 20th century” saying his country mourned his loss. Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto said Castro was a “great friend” of Mexico.
But in Miami, where there is a large Cuban community, there have been celebrations in some parts of the city.