Guerrilla revolutionary and communist idol, Fidel Castro was a holdout against history who turned tiny Cuba into a thorn in the paw of the mighty capitalist United States.
The former Cuban president, who died aged 90 on Friday, said he would never retire from politics.
But emergency intestinal surgery in July 2006 drove him to hand power to Raul Castro, who ended his brother’s antagonistic approach to Washington, shocking the world in December 2014 in announcing a rapprochement with US President Barack Obama.
Famed for his rumpled olive fatigues, straggly beard and the cigars he reluctantly gave up for health reasons, Fidel Castro kept a tight clamp on dissent at home while defining himself abroad with his defiance of Washington.
In the end, he essentially won the political staring game, even if the Cuban people do continue to live in poverty and the once-touted revolution he led has lost its shine.
As he renewed diplomatic ties, Obama acknowledged that decades of US sanctions had failed to bring down the regime — a drive designed to introduce democracy and foster western-style economic reforms — and it was time to try another way to help the Cuban people.