Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz (Aug 13, 1926 – Nov 25, 2016), commonly known as Fidel Castro, was a revolutionary who governed the Republic of Cuba as Prime Minister from 1959 to 1976 and then as President from 1976 to 2008. Politically a Marxist–Leninist and Cuban nationalist, Under his administration Cuba became a one-party socialist state; industry and business were nationalized, and state socialist reforms implemented throughout society.
Born in Birán as the son of a wealthy farmer, Castro adopted leftist anti-imperialist politics while studying law at the University of Havana. After participating in rebellions against right-wing governments in the Dominican Republic and Colombia, he planned the overthrow of Cuban President Fulgencio Batista, launching a failed attack on the Moncada Barracks in 1953. After a year’s imprisonment, he traveled to Mexico where he formed a revolutionary group, the 26th of July Movement, with his brother Raúl Castro and Che Guevara. Returning to Cuba, Castro took a key role in the Cuban Revolution by leading the Movement in a guerrilla war against Batista’s forces from the Sierra Maestra. After Batista’s overthrow in 1959, Castro assumed military and political power as Cuba’s Prime Minister. The United States was alarmed by Castro’s friendly relations with the Soviet Union, and unsuccessfully attempted to remove him by assassination, economic blockade, and counter-revolution, including the Bay of Pigs invasion of 1961. Countering these threats, Castro formed an alliance with the Soviets and allowed them to place nuclear weapons on the island, sparking the Cuban Missile Crisis—a defining incident of the Cold War—in 1962. Adopting a Marxist-Leninist model of development, Castro converted Cuba into a one-party socialist state under Communist Party rule, the first in the Western hemisphere. Reforms introducing central economic planning and expanding healthcare and education were accompanied by state control of the press and the suppression of internal dissent. Abroad, Castro supported anti-imperialist revolutionary groups, backing the establishment of Marxist governments in Chile, Nicaragua, and Grenada, and sending troops to aid allies in the Yom Kippur War, Ethio-Somali War, and Angolan Civil War. These actions, coupled with Castro’s leadership of the Non-Aligned Movement from 1979–83 and Cuba’s medical internationalism, increased Cuba’s profile on the world stage and earned its leader great respect in the developing world. Following the Soviet Union’s dissolution in 1991, Castro led Cuba into its “Special Period” and embraced environmentalist and anti-globalization ideas. In the 2000s he forged alliances in the Latin American “pink tide”—namely with Hugo Chávez’s Venezuela—and signed Cuba to the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas. In 2006 he transferred his responsibilities to Vice-President Raúl Castro, who formally assumed the presidency in 2008.
Castro was a controversial and divisive world figure. He was decorated with various international awards, and his supporters laud him as a champion of socialism, anti-imperialism, and humanitarianism, whose revolutionary regime secured Cuba’s independence from American imperialism. Conversely, critics view him as a totalitarian dictator whose administration oversaw multiple human-rights abuses, an exodus of more than one million Cubans, and the impoverishment of the country’s economy. Through his actions and his writings, he significantly influenced the politics of various individuals and groups across the world.
Castro was born to Ángel Castro y Argiz and Lina Ruz González, was a migrant to Cuba from Spain , Fidel was one of seven children they had
Fidel misbehaved in school and didn’t excel academically but took an interest in history, geography and debating. He became involved in student activism, Passionate about anti-imperialism and opposing U.S. intervention in the Caribbean,
1946 – Castro became critical of the corruption and violence of President Ramón Grau’s government, and his speech received coverage on the front page of several newspapers.
1947, Castro joined the Party of the Cuban People (Partido Ortodoxo), founded by veteran politician Eduardo Chibás. Chibás advocated social justice, honest government, and political freedom, while his party exposed corruption and demanded reform. Though Chibás lost the election, Castro remained committed to working on his behalf.
1947 – participated in invasion of the Dominican Republic and overthrow the right-wing military junta of Rafael Trujillo, a U.S. ally.
1948 – Castro took student protests against the killing of a high school pupil by government bodyguards. Arrested and beaten. He became leftist by condemning social and economic inequality in Cuba, condemning corruption and U.S. imperialism.
He married Mirta Díaz Balart, a student from a wealthy family through whom he was exposed to the lifestyle of the Cuban elite. The relationship was a love match, disapproved of by both families, but Mirta’s father gave them tens of thousands of dollars to spend on a three-month New York City honeymoon.
1949, Mirta gave birth to a son, Fidelito, so the couple moved to a larger Havana flat. Castro continued to put himself at risk, staying active in the city’s politics which contained within it both communists and members of the Partido Ortodoxo.
Castro co-founded a legal partnership that primarily catered for poor Cubans, although it proved a financial failure. Caring little for money or material goods, Castro failed to pay his bills; his furniture was repossessed and electricity cut off, distressing his wife.
His hopes for Cuba centered on Chibás and the Partido Ortodoxo, and he was present at Chibás’ politically motivated suicide in 1951. Castro is heir apparent of Chibás, run for Congress in the 1952 elections, he was nominated as a candidate for the House of Representatives by party members in Havana’s poorest districts, and began campaigning.
General Fulgencio Batista, the former president seized power in a military coup, with Prío fleeing to Mexico. Declaring himself president, Batista cancelled the planned presidential elections, describing his new system as “disciplined democracy”: considered it a one-man dictatorship. Batista moved to the right, solidifying ties with both the wealthy elite and the United States, severing diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union, suppressing trade unions and persecuting Cuban socialist groups. Castro tried to oppose Batista in many ways but was not successful.
Castro underwent surgery for intestinal bleeding, and on July 31, 2006 delegated his presidential duties to Raúl Castro.
Following his retirement, Castro’s health deteriorated; He continued to interact with the Cuban people, published an opinion column titled “Reflections” in Granma, used a Twitter account, and gave occasional public lectures.
On April 19, 2011, Castro resigned from the Communist Party central committee, thus stepping down as party leader. Raúl was selected as his successor. Now without any official role in the country’s government, he took on the role of an elder statesman.
2012, Pope Benedict XVI visited Cuba for three days, during which time he met with Castro despite the Pope’s vocal opposition to Cuba’s government.
2014, Castro was awarded the Chinese Confucius Peace Prize for seeking peaceful solutions to his nation’s conflict with the U.S. and for his post-retirement efforts to prevent nuclear war.
2015, he publicly commented on the “Cuban Thaw”, an increased normalization between Cuba-U.S. relations, by stating that while it was a positive move for establishing peace in the region, 2016 – Didn’t meet U.S. President Barack Obama on his vivit to cuba
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe vivited his in Havana
Castro proclaimed himself to be “a Socialist, a Marxist, and a Leninist”, and he publicly identified himself as a Marxist-Leninist beginning in December 1961.
As a Marxist, Castro sought to transform Cuba from a capitalist state which was dominated by foreign imperialism to a socialist society and ultimately to a communist society.
Castro was known for his busy working hours, often only going to bed at 3 or 4 a.m.
He preferred to meet foreign diplomats in these early hours, believing that they would be tired and he could gain the upper hand in negotiations.
- Enjoyed reading but was uninterested in music.
- Sports fan, he also spent much of his time trying to keep fit, undertaking regular exercise.
- He took a great interest in gastronomy, as well as wine and whisky, and as Cuban leader was known to wander into his kitchen to discuss cookery with his chefs.
- Castro had a lifelong love of guns,
- Preference for life in the countryside over the city.
- Castro has not enriched himself, lived more modest than most Latin American presidents,
- Fidel had five other sons by his second wife, Dalia Soto del Valle: Antonio, Alejandro, Alexis, Alexander “Alex”, and Ángel Castro Soto del Valle.
- While Fidel was married to Mirta, he had an affair with Natalia “Naty” Revuelta Clews, who gave birth to his daughter, Alina Fernández Revuelta.
- Alina left Cuba in 1993, disguised as a Spanish tourist, and sought asylum in the U.S., from where she has criticized her father’s policies. By an unnamed woman he had another son, Jorge Ángel Castro. Fidel had another daughter, Francisca Pupo (born 1953), the result of a one-night affair. Pupo and her husband now live in Miami. Castro often engaged in one night stands with women, some of whom were specially selected for him while visiting foreign allies. His sister Juanita Castro has been living in the United States since the early 1960s, and is an opponent of her brother’s regime.
Castro wielded “absolute power” in Cuba, albeit not in a legal or constitutional manner, Cuba have been so completely dominated by “the personality of one man”. He lead a political system of his own creation and bearing his indelible stamp
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