"I neither will aspire to, nor will I accept, the position of president of the council of state and commander in chief," he wrote in the letter. Fidel, handed over power temporarily to his brother, Raul, in July 2006 when he underwent intestinal surgery. The 81-year-old has ruled Cuba since leading a communist revolution in 1959.
Fidel Castro had become America's enemy number one. The CIA tried to assassinate him - more than 600 times, according to one Cuban minister. Getting him to smoke a cigar packed with explosives was one idea. Other anti-Castro plots were even more bizarre, including one to make his beard fall out and ridicule him.
Cuba under his rule has made impressive domestic strides. Good medical care is freely available for all, there is 98% literacy, and Cuba's infant mortality rates compare favourably with Western nations. (more...)