December 2 was a recurring date for Fidel Castro.
His first run-in with the date was in 1956.
The 26th of July movement – led by Castro – had gathered strength in Mexico, and eventually stormed the country before a bid to overthrow the Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista.
It was successful and six years later it was Castro’s political party when he stood, as Cuban leader, and publicly announced himself as a Marxist-Leninist.
He told his country he was going to lead them to communism.
“One of the lingering myths about Cuba‘s Fidel Castro has been that he was really a simple, well-intentioned reformer, who was forced into Communist arms by clumsy, unsympathetic treatment by the US,” Time magazine reported at the time.
“Last week, in a characteristic five-hour monologue over Havana TV, Castro himself set the record straight.”
In 1971, on the same calendar date, Castro officially became president of Cuba.
Castro ruled Cuba for 49 years with a mix of charisma and iron will, creating a one-party state and becoming a central figure in the Cold War.
He was demonised by the US and its allies but admired by many leftists around the world, especially socialist revolutionaries in Latin America and Africa.
Castro was famous for long, fist-pounding speeches filled with blistering rhetoric, often aimed at the US.
At home, he swept away capitalism and won support for bringing schools and hospitals to the poor.
But he also created legions of enemies and critics, concentrated among Cuban exiles in Miami who fled his rule and saw him as a ruthless tyrant.
In 2006, an intestinal infection almost killed him and he was forced to hand over rule to his brother Raul in 2008.
He died on November 26, 2016, at the age of 90.