Fidel Castro and the Cuban Revolution

BY: Ngoc Bich Nguyen

FIDEL CASTRO

Fidel Castro Ruz was born on August 13, 1926 on a farm in Mayari, Province of Oriente. He attended good Catholic schools in Santiago de Cuba and Havana. In 1945 he enrolled in University of Havana. He graduated with a law degree in 1950. Two years before he graduated, in 1948 Fidel Castro married Mirta Diaz-Balart. But then in 1954 they got divorced.

In 1952, after Fulgencio Bastista y Zald'var seized control of the Cuban government, Castro became the leader. He took control of Cuba in 1959 and established a Communist dictatorship. Cuban exiles tried to overthrow Castro in 1961, now known as The Bay of Pigs. In the early 1960s Castro openly embraced communism and formed close ties with the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), relying increasingly on Soviet economic and military aid.

In 1953 he was jailed for having led the July 26th uprising against Batista. Released in 1955, he went into exile in the United States and Mexico. In 1956 he returned to Cuba and led a rebellion from the Sierra Maestra region of Oriente Province. His rebel forces, known as the 26th of July movement, won steadily increasing popular support. Batista fled from the country on January 1, 1959, and Castro assumed power. He became premier on February 16.

Castro held power since 1959; president since 1976; formerly prime minister; first secretary of the Cuban Communist Party, and the Commander of the Armed Forces.

Cuban economic problems got worse in the 1990's and finally Castro approved limited economic reforms that legalized some free enterprise.

 

THE CUBAN REVOLUTION

Fidel Castro was a young lawyer in Cuba when General Fulgencio Batista overthrew the president of Cuba. This angered him very much, therefore, for the next seven years he tried to overthrow the Batista's government.

Castro led his first attack on July 26, 1953, against the military barracks in Santiago, but he was defeated and arrested. Castro was to spend 15 years in prison. Fortunately he was released on 1955 by Batista in show of supreme power. His second attack was on December 2, 1956, he was defeated again by Batista's army and fled to the Sierra Maestra. Finally, his third attack, with the aid of their rebellious Cubans, Castro made Batista flee the country.

Fidel Castro soon suspended all elections and named himself "President for Life." He established a communist government with himself as a dictator and began relations with the Soviet Union.

At first the United States supported Castro but when he embraced communism, the U.S. attempted to overthrow him. On April 17, 1961, at Cuba's Bay of Pigs, there was a battle between U.S. sponsored Cuban exiles and the Cuban armed forces.

The Cuban Revolution was a turning point in recent history. Because of Castro, Cuba became an important player in the global power of the Soviet Union and the severity of the Cold War. His status as dictator is highly opposed by many nations because of the violations of human rights practiced under his rule.

Castro, who has no rivals for power, demands the absolute loyalty of those around him. He has been less than successful as an economic policy-maker:
Cuba remains a poor country in debt whose livelihood depends on sugar production. He nonetheless holds the system in place. His greatest achievement is the consolidation of a Communist regime in the Caribbean, so close to Cuba's main antagonist. In no small measure, the Cuban Revolution is still Castro's revolution.



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