Longtime Cuban leader Fidel Castro, the bearded, cigar-smoking Communist revolutionary who infuriated the United States, inspired both loyalty and loathing from his countrymen and maintained an iron grip on Cuban politics for almost 50 years, died Friday at the age of 90.

Castro, who was the only leader most of his countrymen ever knew, outlasted 11 US presidents since he first took power in 1959.

Castro had been in declining health for years – he continued to spew his anti-American tirades almost until the end.

In October, 2014, Castro reprinted a New York Times editorial in state-run media that argued that the U.S. embargo on Cuba should end. The editorial ran almost verbatim, omitting one line about Cuba’s release of political prisoners.