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Fidel Castro
Fidel Castro

Fidel Castro was born on his father’s farm in Cuba on August 13, 1926. He was born out of wedlock and his father, Angel Castro did not officially claim him as his son.

While growing up he went by the name Fidel Ruiz.Later, his father married his mother and Fidel changed his surname from Ruiz to Castro. Fidel attended Jesuit boarding school. He was smart, but was not a great student. He did excel in sports, however, especially basketball.

In 1945, Fidel entered law school at the University of Havanna. It was at the University that he became involved in politics and protesting against the current government. He thought the government was corrupt and there was too much involvement from the United States.


HOW FIDEL CASTRO GOT TO POWER

In July 1953, Castro led about 120 men in an attack on the moncada army barracks in Santiago de Cuba. The assault failed, Castro was captured and sentenced to 15 years in prison., and many of his men were killed. The U.S-backed Batista, looking to improve his authoritarian image, subsequently released Castro in 1955 as part of a general amnesty. Castro ended up in Mexico, where he met fellow revolutionary Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara and plotted his return.

The following year, Castro and 81 other me sailed on the hatch ‘Granma’ to the eastern coast of Cuba, where government forces immediately ambushed them. The estimated 18 survivors, including Castro, his brother Raul and Guevara fled deep into the Sierra maestra mountains in southeastern Cuba with virtually no weapons or supplies. The revolutionaries started reorganizimg with only two riffles.

But by early 1957 they were already attracting recruits and winning small battles against Rural Guards Patrols. They would attack the men in front, attack the centre and then ambush the rear when it started retreating. In 1958, Batista tried to snuff out the uprising with a massive offensive, complete with air force bombers and naval offshore units. The guerillas held their ground, launched a counter attack and wrestled control from Batista on January 1, 1959.


CHANGES EFFECTED BY FIDEL CASTRO

After taking power, Castro abolished legal discrimination, brought electricity to the countryside, provided for full employment and advanced the causes of education and health care, in part by building new schools and medical facilities. But he also closed down opposition newspapers, jailed thousands of political opponents and made no move towards elections.

Moreover, he limited the amount of land a person could own, abolished private business and presided over housing and consumer goods shortages. With political and economic options so limited, hundreds of thousands of Cubans, including vast number of professionals and technicians, left Cuba, often for United States. From the 1960s to the 1980s, Castro supplied military and financial aid to various leftists guerrillas movements in Latin America and Africa.

Nonetheless, relations with many countries, with the notable exception of the United States, began to normalize. Cuba’s economy founded when the soviet union collapsed in 1994 and the United States expanded sanctions even further. Yet Castro, who by this time had switched his title from prime minister to president found new trading partners and was able to cling to power until 2006, when he temporarily gave control of the government to Raul after undergoing emergency intestinal surgery. Two years later, in 2008, he permanently resigned.

Cuban state television announced just after midnight on November 26, 2016, that Castro had died in Havana. The cause of death was not immediately disclosed. His brother and President Raúl Castro confirmed the news in a brief speech: “The commander in chief of the Cuban revolution died at 22:29 this evening.” It was announced that Castro will be cremated on November 26, 2016.

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