His brother Raul, the country’s current president, made the announcement that Fidel died at 10:29 p.m. “Towards victory, always!” he declared on Cuban state television. While the nation is in mourning over the loss — with a state cremation ceremony in the works — many exiles and their family members in Miami have reportedly taken to the streets to celebrate the death.
The communist dictator’s tenure has been condemned by many over the years — most recently by President-elect Donald Trump and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (who is of Cuban decent) — but the fashion and entertainment industry has had a longstanding love affair with Castro and the island-nation.
And the flirtation, over the years, has been mutual.
In fact, Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss were spellbound after a tête-à-tête with Castro in 1998 that lasted nearly two hours. The supermodels were in Havana completing a Harper’s Bazaar pictorial and requested an audience with the leader.
The trio met at the Palace of the Revolution and discussed a range of subjects, including fashion. Campbell later shared at a press conference that Castro admitted to regularly reading the same magazines they graced and was “familiar” with their print work, but she added that he was surprised at how different they looked in the flesh, BBC reported at the time.
“He’s a really, really intelligent person,” Campbell continued. “He said that seeing us in person was very spiritual.”
Campbell, who has cited Nelson Mandela as one of her greatest influences, likened Castro to the South African anti-apartheid revolutionary.
“These are two men in the world that I think are an inspiration to everyone,” she said. “They have fought with integrity to stick to their beliefs.”
In the 1960s, Mandela was imprisoned for his activism and served a 27-year sentence before he was elected president of South Africa in the country’s first fully democratic election in 1994. Meanwhile, the ’60s unfolded for Castro in an entirely different manner: He held 15,000 political prisoners in Cuba, and he had around 582 of them killed by firing squad, reports the New York Post. (Mandela and Castro met in 2001.)
“I’m so nervous and flustered because I can’t believe that I met him,” Campbell continued.
Curiously, a journalist at the press conference asked Campbell, then 28, and Moss, then 24, if they were “seduced” by Castro, who was 71 years old at the time of the private encounter. “No man has ever seduced me, and I wanted to meet him — so, no,” Campbell insisted.
Designers Pierre Cardin and Paco Rabanne, actors Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert Redford, and director Steven Spielberg are among a haul of stars who’ve enjoyed Cuba under Castro’s rule over the years.