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Fidel Alejandro Castrop Ruz was a Cuban Communist revolutionary leader and politician born on August 13th1926. Besides, Castro also served as the president of Cuba from 1976 to 2008. Before ascending to the presidency, he was the Cuban Prime Minister from 1959 to 1976. It is through his leadership that the Republic of Cuba became a one-party socialist state. The son of a sugarcane farmer, Fidel studied law at the University of Havana.
Fidel Castro expressed his intention to run for the presidency in Cuba for the first time in 1952. However, his dream was cut short when the government was overthrown by General Fulgencio Batista; a move that led to the cancellation of the scheduled elections. This did not kill his dream as he went ahead to declare himself in favor of armed revolution. In attempts to rally support in rejection of democracy, Castro and his brother, Raul led an unsuccessful uprising against Batista. Castro was then sentenced to 15years in prison after which he was released under amnesty. He then fled to Mexico where he got to join forces with the Argentinean Marxist Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara.
In 1956, Castro and ‘Che’ landed in Cuba with a bunch of insurgents called the ‘26th of July Movement’ where they began a guerilla war against Batista’s government. The insurgency would continue for the next two years and reached its peak in 1958 when Castro launched a full-scale attack on Batista. At the height of the insurgence, Batista was forced to flee and Castro was sworn in as the Cuban Prime Minister in February 1959. During his reign, he introduced a Marxist-Leninist programme. Besides, it is also during this time that thousands of Cubans went into exile in the United States.
As a result of Castro’s Marxist-Leninist programme, rivalry erupted between his country and America leading to sanctions on Cuba in 1960.
The relations of the two countries heightened with Bay of Pigs invasion orchestrated by the CIA through Cuban exiles in 1961 April. However, the attempt did not bear any fruits.
Castro’s rule came into another crisis when he authorized the construction of nuclear missile sites by the Soviet Union in 1962. This led to the Cuban Missile Crisis that almost brought America and the Soviet Union to war.
Despite being described as a dictatorial leader who ruthlessly suppressed the opposition, Castro remained very popular in Cuba. Many Cubans were impressed with his policies that introduced free healthcare services and education. As a result of the country’s close ties with the Soviet Union, Cuba received lost of economic support. In 1976, Fidel Castro was elected president by the National Assembly.
Despite Castro’s ties with the Soviet Union, he emerged as one of the prominent leaders of the non-aligned forces between 1970s and 1980s. In 1991, the Soviet aid came to an end plunging Cuba into an economic crisis. Castro stepped down as president due to failing health in 2008, passing on the mantle to his younger brother, Raul Castro.
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