Castro, who passed away at the age of 90 on November 25, "gave the Cuban People Dignity, a national pride," Skierka said, adding that the small island nation, with a population of 11 million, which had previously been dominated by Spain and the United States, was able to evolve on its own terms under his leadership.
"Fidel Castro gave the Cuban People Dignity, a national pride and a social and health system as well as a educational system which are unique and exceptional not only in Second- and Third-World-Countries, but also praised within the United Nations. So therefore he will survive as an icon and a myth and rest in peace as a national hero who succeeded the Cuban liberator of the 19th century José Martí," Skierka said.
He added that the deceased leader and the country under his rule managed to survive through years of austerity following the embargo and demonization by the West after the victory of his revolution in 1959 seen by Washington as "a narcistic humiliation of biblical dimension."
"A humiliation of Goliath by an David who was felt as a Superhero since in many Third-World-Countries. Therefore he was demonized by the west as it was common in the Cold-War-Era, when leaders of the East and West demonized each other up to the brink of war… It was the Soviet Union and their bloc-countries to guarantee the economic survival after the United States established its more than half-century-long economic embargo. And even after the fall of the Soviet Union he managed himself and his country to survive by austerity," Skierka stressed.
Two years after the revolution, he declared it to be Marxist-Leninist in nature and allied Cuba to the Soviet Union. His "Cuban Fidelism", is summarized by Skierka as a mixture of Marxism, Engelism, Leninism, and ideas taken from Argentine revolutionary Che Guevara and the Cuban national hero Jose Marti.
The biographer added that Castro's charisma and intelligence made him a memorable speaker — his longest speech, in February 1998, lasting 7 hours and 30 minutes. Infamously, the Cuban leader survived over 600 assassination attempts, primarily staged by the CIA, adding to his image of defiance, particularly in the face of the United States.
Fidel Castro was born in 1926 in the Cuban village of Biran. He became Cuban prime minister in February 1959 and the country's president in 1976. In 2008, he announced his resignation as head of state and handed power over to his younger brother Raul Castro. He remained the first secretary of the Cuban Communist Party until April 19, 2011, when he officially announced his resignation from the post.