Fidel Castro (1926)

Fidel Castro

1926 On August 13th, in Mayari, Cuba, Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz was born. He is a Cuban revolutionary who took part in the overthrow of Fulgencio Batista’s dictatorship and in Cuba’s transformation into the first communist state in Eastern Hemisphere. He grew up on the sugarcane plantation of his family, an estate of almost ten thousand hectares, somewhere near Biran, Cuban province called Oriente. His father was an immigrant and had come from Galicia, Spain, to work. During his youth, Castro worked on the fields of sugarcane, but when he was six years old he joined Jesuit school, firstly in Santiago then to Belen College in Havana, where he proved to be a leading sportsman.

1945 He graduated Belen College, Havana.

1945-1950 During this period, he studied law at University in Havana, graduated it in 1950 and took his doctorate. A big part of college he spent as a political activist and developed a special penchant for direct actions. He took part in the preparation of a conspiracy against the dictator who led Dominican Republic, general Trujillo and participated to street riots of students from Bogota, Columbia’s capital. Castro began to work as a lawyer and was going to take part in elections in 1952, for a seat in parliament, but these elections were cancelled after General Fulgencio Batista destroyed Carlos Prio Socarras’s government through a coup. Castro challenged in court the decision to cancel the elections, and when the petition was rejected he resorted to arms.

1953 On July 26th, Castro led 150 people to attack Moncada from Santiago of Cuba garrison, the second largest military base in Cuba, hoping to give birth to an uprising. Half of attackers were kept or killed and Castro and his brother, Raul, were taken prisoners. For the law suit that followed, Castro prepared his defence on political principles defiant saying that “history would pay me”. They had both been sentenced to fifteen years to prison, but they were released two years later due to political amnesty. Castro left to Mexico and took other fighters.

1956 He came back to Cuba and started the army revolt. On December 2nd, a group of 82 people landed on the North-East shore of the province, but only 12 survived. These, including Castro and his brother, retreated into Sierra Maestra Mountains in order to lead a guerrilla war against an increasingly demoralized army. In less than two years, Castro’s guerrillas, around 800 people, defeated an army made of 30.000 professionals.

1959 Batista left the country in the first day of the year, he was the chief of the armed forces and the prime-minister; the indisputable leader of Cuba. Initially, the USA recognized the new government on January 7th 1959, but the relations of the two states deteriorated rapidly, as the new Cuban regime expropriated the Americans’ properties.

1959-1976 During this period he was a prime-minister until he became the president of Council of State and of Council of Ministers.

1960 On February, Cuba announced the concluding of a commercial treaty with the Soviet Union by the Cubans received Soviet oil in exchange for sugar. In fact, Cuba became a Soviet satellite and this determined the USA, in the Cold War context that was happening in 1960, to cut the diplomatic relations and to impose an economic embargo to Cuba. Because of this there was a smoldering conflict between the two states, conflict which was many times on the point to break out.

1961 The Bay of Pigs invasion took place, an invasion that was supported by CIA, in the so-called Cuban missiles crisis.

1962 Washington directly faced Moscow and forced Russians to withdraw their nuclear missiles from the island. During the last years the massive blood between Cuba and USA represented the cause of new pressures.

1976 Castro came to power supported by the majority of Cubans promising to reinstate the Constitution from 1940. Once powerful, he turned into a convinced Marxist-Leninist: he nationalized private trade and industry, seized the properties of people who were not Cubans, collectivized agriculture, initiated social protection measures on a long term and reformed educational system in order to help poor people. He transformed Cuba in a communist state, with only one party and eliminated with no mercy all political dissidents and all opponents. Many people of the middle class left the country, a part of them created a very active community against Castro, in Miami, Florida.

Castro’s figure, bearded and chewing the end of a cigar became an international symbol of communist revolution, and his rhetoric against USA became his favourite speech, but the tries to share the Marxist revolution to other parts of the South-American continent failed. Che Guevara, one of his most trusted lieutenants, died trying to organize the revolutions on the continent, which Castro funded, but these were eliminated one by one. Cuban army fought together with the Soviet one within many conflicts in the Third World, especially during civil war in Angola.

Even if the education and the health system made remarkable progress, communism did not succeed to bring prosperity to Cuba and the island became more and more dependent on Soviet Union. The collapse of the communist colossus, in 1990, resulted in worsening of economical situation and provoked a new wave of emigration although Castro was forced by economic needs to allow a partial return to Western hemisphere.

2006 On August, due to a surgery, he gave the powers informally, as interim acting, to his brother, Raul.

2008 On February 19th, Fidel Castro officially declared that he gave up to power.



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