By Webteam - 13th August 2017 6:05am
Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz was a Cuban revolutionary and politician 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, he also served as the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba from 1961 until 2011. Under his administration, Cuba became a one-party socialist state; industry and business were nationalised, and state socialist reforms were implemented throughout society.
Born as the son of a wealthy Spanish 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 with his brother and Che Guevara. Returning to Cuba, Castro took a key role in the Cuban Revolution by leading the Movement in a guerrilla war against government forces. 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 blockade, and counter-revolution. Countering these threats, Castro formed an alliance with the Soviet Union and allowed the Soviets to place nuclear weapons in Cuba, sparking the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.
Adopting a Marxist-Leninist model of development, Castro converted Cuba into a one-party, socialist state, 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, and sending troops to aid allies in the Yom Kippur War, Ogaden War, and Angolan Civil War. These actions, coupled with Castro's leadership of the Non-Aligned Movement from 1979 to 1983 and Cuba's medical internationalism, increased Cuba's profile on the world stage. Following the Soviet Union's dissolution in 1991, Castro led Cuba into its "Special Period" and embraced environmentalist and anti-globalisation ideas. In the 2000's he forged alliances with Hugo Chávez's Venezuela and signed Cuba up to the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas. In 2006 he 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 polarised world opinion. His supporters view him as a champion of socialism and anti-imperialism whose regime advanced economic and social justice and made Cuba independent from American imperialism. Critics view him as a dictator whose administration oversaw human-rights abuses, the exodus of a large number of Cubans, and the impoverishment of the country's economy.
Born 13th August 1926 in Birán, Cuba
Died 25th November 2016 in Havana, Cuba
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