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Fidel Castro seemed immortal. His speeches, which could last up to seven hours, were fiery orations in support of his communist revolution and denunciations of capitalism. He survived numerous assassination attempts and the red-hot enmity of the United States, Cuba’s mighty neighbor just 145 km to the north. His communist regime outlived the collapse of its patron, the Soviet Union, confirming the respect and reverence of revolutionaries around the world.

Castro was indeed mortal, however, passing away last Friday at the age of 90. His socialist revolution endures though, led by his brother, Raul Castro, president of Cuba since Fidel passed him the reins of power in 2006 after 49 years as leader. Castro’s life is another reminder — like Singapore’s founding father Lee Kwan Yew — that great historical figures do not always come from great powers. While Castro’s legacy will be debated for generations, there is no dismissing the significance of his life and its impact.

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