The Cuban leader was a dictator who silenced his opposition with death or long prison sentences. “Though his personal popularity in Cuba is immense, there is a segment of Cubans to whom Mr. Castro looms as a ruthless and cunning dictator, a cynical betrayer of liberal democracy in whose name he first rallied millions of Cubans to his cause and banner … the idolized object of a personality cult he needs as he needs the air he breathes,” said Tad Szulc, the author of the 1986 biography “Fidel: A Critical Portrait.” Fidel handed the presidency to Raúl Castro in 2006 after falling ill with a severe intestinal disease. His health had been a state secret. “If surviving assassination attempts were an Olympic event, I would win the gold medal,” Fidel Castro once said. He survived more than 600 attempts against his life. Fidel wanted to free Cuba of U.S. economic domination. Raul Castro is 85 old now. He has allowed ordinary Cubans for the first time to buy computers and cell phones, sell and purchase cars, drive more private taxis, sell their own fruit and vegetables, leave the country without government permission, and receive credit from state banks for their farms and small businesses.