Fidel Castro

Leader of Cuba from 1959 to 2008 / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz (/ˈkæstr/ KASS-troh,[1] Latin American Spanish: [fiˈðel aleˈxandɾo ˈkastɾo ˈrus]; 13 August 1926 – 25 November 2016) was a Cuban revolutionary and politician who was the leader of Cuba from 1959 to 2008, serving as the prime minister of Cuba from 1959 to 1976 and president from 1976 to 2008. Ideologically a Marxist–Leninist and Cuban nationalist, he also served as the first secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba from 1965 until 2011. Under his administration, Cuba became a one-party communist state; industry and business were nationalized, and socialist reforms were implemented throughout society.

Quick facts: El ComandanteFidel Castro, First Secretary of...
El Comandante
Fidel Castro
Fidel_Castro_1950s.jpg
Castro c.1959
First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba
In office
3 October 1965  19 April 2011
DeputyRaúl Castro
Preceded byBlas Roca Calderio
Succeeded byRaúl Castro
15th President of the Council of State of Cuba
In office
2 December 1976  24 February 2008[a]
Vice PresidentRaúl Castro
Preceded byOsvaldo Dorticós Torrado
Succeeded byRaúl Castro
15th President of the Council of Ministers of Cuba
In office
2 December 1976  24 February 2008[a]
Vice PresidentRaúl Castro
Preceded byHimself (as prime minister)
Succeeded byRaúl Castro
15th Prime Minister of Cuba
In office
16 February 1959  2 December 1976
President
Preceded byJosé Miró Cardona
Succeeded byHimself (as president of the Council of Ministers)
7th and 23rd Secretary-General of the Non-Aligned Movement
In office
16 September 2006  24 February 2008
Preceded byAbdullah Ahmad Badawi
Succeeded byRaúl Castro
In office
10 September 1979  6 March 1983
Preceded byJ. R. Jayewardene
Succeeded byNeelam Sanjiva Reddy
Personal details
Born
Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz

(1926-08-13)13 August 1926
Birán, Oriente, Cuba
Died25 November 2016(2016-11-25) (aged 90)
Havana, Cuba
Resting placeSanta Ifigenia Cemetery, Santiago de Cuba
Political partyPCC (from 1965)
Other political
affiliations
Spouses
(m. 1948; div. 1955)
Dalia Soto del Valle
(m. 1980)
Domestic partnerNatalia Revuelta Clews (1955-1959)
Children11, including Alina and Fidelito
Parent
Relatives
Alma materUniversity of Havana
Occupation
  • Lawyer
  • politician
AwardsFull list
SignatureFidel_Castro_Signature.svg
Nicknames
  • Bola de Churre
  • El Caballo
  • El Comandante
  • El guajiro
  • El loco
  • Fifo
  • Pistolita
Military service
AllegianceRepublic of Cuba
Branch/serviceRevolutionary Armed Forces
Years of service1953–2016
RankComandante en Jefe
Unit26th of July Movement
Battles/wars
a. ^ For medical reasons, presidential powers were transferred to the Vice President from 31 July 2006.
Close

Born in Birán, the son of a wealthy Spanish farmer, Castro adopted leftist and anti-imperialist ideas 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, Castro travelled to Mexico where he formed a revolutionary group, the 26th of July Movement, with his brother Raúl Castro and Ernesto "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 came to oppose Castro's government and unsuccessfully attempted to remove him by assassination, economic embargo, and counter-revolution, including the Bay of Pigs Invasion of 1961. Countering these threats, Castro aligned with the Soviet Union and allowed the Soviets to place nuclear weapons in Cuba, resulting in 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. Policies 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, as well as sending troops to aid allies in the Yom Kippur, Ogaden, and Angolan Civil War. These actions, coupled with Castro's leadership of the Non-Aligned Movement from 1979 to 1983 and Cuban medical internationalism, increased Cuba's profile on the world stage. Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, Castro led Cuba through the economic downturn of the "Special Period", embracing environmentalist and anti-globalization ideas. In the 2000s, Castro forged alliances in the Latin American "pink tide"—namely with Hugo Chávez's Venezuela—and formed the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas. In 2006, Castro transferred his responsibilities to Vice President Raúl Castro, who was elected to the presidency by the National Assembly in 2008.

The longest-serving non-royal head of state in the 20th and 21st centuries, Castro polarized world opinion. His supporters view him as a champion of socialism and anti-imperialism whose revolutionary government advanced economic and social justice while securing Cuba's independence from American hegemony. His critics view him as a dictator whose administration oversaw human rights abuses, the exodus of many Cubans, and the impoverishment of the country's economy.

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