Fidel Castro is dead at 90

Fidel Castro is dead at 90 for real.

Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz (August 13, 1926 – November 25, 2016) was a  Cuban politician, dictator, and revolutionary  who governed Cuba as Prime Minister from 1959 to 1976 and then as President  from 1976 to 2008. Under his administration Cuba became a one party socialist state ; industry and business were nationalized and state socialist reforms implemented throughout society.

Castro was born out of wedlock at his father’s farm on August 13, 1926. His father was a successful sugar farmer who took his household servant, Lina Ruz González, as his mistress and later as his wife. They had seven children, among them Fidel.

Fidel studied law at the University of Havana in 1945. He was passionate about anti imperialism.

In 1947, Castro joined the Party of the Cuban People , founded by Eduardo Chibas. Chibás advocated social justice, honest government, and political freedom, while his party exposed corruption and demanded reform.

After this he became passionately involved with politics and a prominent figure in protests against government.


He married  Mirta Diaz Balart,  a student from a wealthy family through whom he was exposed to the lifestyle of the Cuban elite. The relationship was a love match, disapproved of by both families, but Mirta’s father gave them tens of thousands of dollars to spend on a three-month New York City honeymoon.

He moved further to the left, influenced by the  Marxist writings of Karl Marx, Friedrich Engel and Vladimir Lenin.

Castro co-founded a legal partnership that primarily catered for poor Cubans. he was nominated as a candidate for the House of Representatives by party members in Havana’s poorest districts.

During his campaign, Castro met with General Batista. Batista seized power in a military coup. Declaring himself president, Batista cancelled the planned presidential elections, describing his new system as “disciplined democracy.” Castro considered it a one-man dictatorship. Batista moved to the right, solidifying ties with both the wealthy elite and the United States, severing diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union, suppressing trade unions and persecuting Cuban socialist groups. Intent on opposing Batista, Castro brought several legal cases against the government, but these came to nothing, and Castro began thinking of alternate ways to oust the regime.

Castro formed a group called “The Movement.”Castro intended to spark a revolution among Oriente’s impoverished cane cutters and promote further uprisings.He gathered 165 revolutionaries for the mission. The rebels suffered multiple deaths and injuries. He established a guerilla base in the Sierra Maeatra mountains. The government broadcast misinformation about the event, claiming that the rebels were communists who had killed hospital patients. The rebels were rounded up; some were executed and others – including Castro – transported to a prison. Castro was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment in the hospital wing of the Model Prison.

Mirta gained employment in the Ministry of the Interior. Fidel was appalled. They were divorced. Mirta took custody of their son Fidelito.

On May 15, 1955, the prisoners were released. Castro returned to Havana. He conceived two children with two female supporters, Naty Revuelta and Maria Laborde.

In 1955, bombings and violent demonstrations led to a crackdown on dissent, with Castro and Raúl fleeing the country to evade arrest. They  traveled to Mexico where Raúl befriended an Argentine doctor and Marxist-Leninist named Ernesto “Che Guevara.”

Castro toured the U.S. in search of wealthy sympathizers, there being monitored by Batista’s agents, who allegedly orchestrated a failed assassination attempt against him.

After purchasing the decrepit yacht  Granma on November 25, 1956, Castro set sail from Tuxpan, Veracruz with 81 armed revolutionaries. They ran aground in mangrove swamp and headed into the mountains. Volunteers boosted to 200.

As Cuban press was censored, Castro contacted foreign media to spread his message; he became a celebrity.

Fearing Castro was a socialist, the U.S. instructed Cantillo to oust Batista. Cantillo secretly agreed to a ceasefire with Castro, promising that Batista would be tried as a war criminal. However Batista was warned, and fled into exile with over US$300,000,000 on December 31, 1958.

Cantillo entered Havana,  proclaimed the  Supreme Court judge Carlos Piedra  to be President, and began appointing the new government.  Furious, Castro ended the ceasefire and ordered Cantillo’s arrest by sympathetic figures in the army. 

Entering Havana, Castro proclaimed himself Representative of the Rebel Armed Forces of the Presidency, setting up home and office in the penthouse of the Havana Hilton Hotel. Castro exercised a great deal of influence over Urrutia’s regime.

Fidel's twitter photo

Fidel’s twitter photo

In response to popular uproar, which demanded that those responsible be brought to justice, Castro helped set up many trials, resulting in hundreds of executions.

On February 16, 1959, Castro was sworn in as Prime Minister of Cuba. n May 1959 Castro signed into law the First Agrarian Reform  setting a cap for landholdings to 993 acres per owner and prohibiting foreigners from obtaining Cuban land ownership. Around 200,000 peasants received title deeds as large land holdings were broken up; popular among the working class. Judges and politicians had their pay reduced while low-level civil servants saw theirs raised.

Che Guevara became Governor of the Central Bank and then Minister of Industries.

Castro’s government emphasized social projects to improve Cuba’s standard of living. Major emphasis was placed on education. Health care was nationalized and expanded, with rural health centers and urban polyclinics opening up across the island to offer free medical aid. Within the first six months of Castro’s government, 600 miles of roads were built across the island, while $300 million was spent on water and sanitation projects. Over 800 houses were constructed every month in the early years of the administration in an effort to cut homelessness, while nurseries and day-care centers were opened for children and other centers opened for the disabled and elderly.

His regime remained popular with workers, peasants, and students while opposition came primarily from the middle class; thousands of doctors, engineers and other professionals emigrated to Florida.

Militant anti-Castro groups, funded by exiles, the CIA, and the Dominican government, undertook armed attacks and set up guerrilla bases in Cuba’s mountains.

The Cold War was raging between the two superpowers  the United States and the Soviet Union. Castro shared the ideological views of the USSR, establishing relations with several Marxist-Leninist states.

Cuba’s government ordered the country’s refineries – then controlled by the U.S. corporations Shell, ESSO and Standard Oil  to process Soviet oil, but under U.S. pressure, they refused. Castro responded by expropriating and nationalizing the refineries. Retaliating, the U.S. cancelled its import of Cuban sugar, provoking Castro to nationalize most U.S.-owned assets on the island, including banks and sugar mills.

After an explosion of a French vessel in Havana harbor in March 1960 that carried weapons purchased from Belgium Castro publicly insinuated that the U.S. government were guilty of sabotage.

President Eisenhower authorized the CIA to overthrow Castro’s government. He provided them with a budget of $13 million and permitted them to ally with the Mafia, who were aggravated  that Castro’s government closed down their brothel and casino businesses in Cuba.

On October 13, 1960, the U.S.  initiated an economic embargo in Cuba that prohibited the majority of exports to Cuba. On December 16, the U.S. ended its import quota of Cuban sugar, the country’s primary export.

Fearing counter-revolutionary elements in the army, the government created a People’s Militia to arm citizens favorable to the revolution, training at least 50,000 civilians in combat techniques. In September 1960, they created the CDR, a nationwide civilian organization which implemented neighborhood spying to detect counter-revolutionary activities as well as organizing health and education campaigns, becoming a conduit for public complaints. By 1970, a third of the population would be involved in the CDR, and this would come to rise to 80%.Castro proclaimed the new administration a  direct democracy , in which Cubans could assemble at demonstrations to express their democratic will. As a result, he rejected the need for elections, claiming that representative  systems served the interests of socio-economic elites.

Both Eisenhower and his successor John Kennedy supported a CIA plan to aid a dissident militia, the Democratic Revolutionary Front, to invade Cuba and overthrow Castro which resulted in the Bay of Pigs.

Consolidating “Socialist Cuba”, Castro united the MR-26-7, Popular Socialist Party and Revolutionary Directorate into a governing party based on the Leninist principle of democratic centralism named the United Party of the Cuban Socialist Revolution (PURSC) in 1962.

The ORI began shaping Cuba  persecuting political opponents and perceived social deviants such as prostitutes and homosexuals Gay men were forced into the Military Units to Aid Production  (Unidades Militares de Ayuda a la Producción – UMAP); after many revolutionary intellectuals decried this move, the UMAP camps were closed in 1967, although gay men continued to be imprisoned. In 2010, Castro took responsibility for this persecution, regretting it as a “great injustice” By 1962, Cuba’s economy was in steep decline.

Khrushchev wanted to install Soviet  nuclear missiles on Cuba. Although conflicted, Castro agreed, believing it would guarantee Cuba’s safety and enhance the cause of socialism.  Upon discovering it through aerial reconnaissance, in October the U.S. implemented an island-wide quarantine  to search vessels headed to Cuba, sparking the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Castro urged Khrushchev to threaten a nuclear strike on the U.S. should Cuba be attacked. Castro was left out of the negotiations, in which Khruschev agreed to remove the missiles in exchange for a U.S. commitment not to invade Cuba and an understanding that the U.S. would remove their MRMMS from Turkey and Italy.

Castro’s increasing role on the world stage strained his relationship with the USSR.

Cuba’s economy grew in 1974 as a result of high international sugar prices and new credits with Argentina, Canada, and parts of Western Europe.

By the 1980s, Cuba’s economy was again in trouble, following a decline in the market price of sugar and 1979’s decimated harvest. Increasing numbers of Cubans fled to Florida. In one incident, 10,000 Cubans stormed the Peruvian Embassy requesting asylum, and so the U.S. agreed that it would accept 3,500 refugees. Castro conceded that those who wanted to leave could do so from Mariel port. Hundreds of boats arrived from the U.S., leading to a mass exodus of 120,000; Castro’s government took advantage of the situation by loading criminals, the mentally ill, and suspected homosexuals onto the boats destined for Florida.

By 1992, Cuba’s economy had declined by over 40% in under two years, with major food shortages, widespread malnutrition and a lack of basic goods.

Castro’s government diversified its economy into biotechnology and tourism, the latter outstripping Cuba’s sugar industry as its primary source of revenue in 1995. Economic hardship led many Cubans toward religion.

In the early 1990s Castro embraced environmentalism, campaigning against global warming  and the waste of natural resources, and accusing the U.S. of being the world’s primary polluter. By 2006, Cuba was the world’s only nation which met the UN’s Development Programme’s definition of sustainable development, with an ecological footprint  of less than 1.8 hectares per capita. Castro also became a proponent of the anti-globalization movement, criticizing U.S. global hegemony.  He also maintained his devout anti-apartheid  beliefs. Mandela praised Cuba’s involvement in battling South Africa in Angola and thanked Castro personally.

Castro expressed solidarity with the U.S. following the 2001 September 11 attacks  condemning Al-Qaeda  and offering Cuban airports for the emergency diversion of any U.S. planes.

Castro underwent surgery for intestinal bleeding, and on July 31, 2006,  delegated his presidential  duties to his brother Raúl Castro.

He continued to interact with the Cuban people, published an opinion column titled “Reflections” in Granma, used a Twitter account, and gave occasional public lectures.

In January 2015, he publicly commented on the increased normalization between Cuba-U.S. relations, by stating that while it was a positive move for establishing peace in the region, he mistrusted the U.S. government  He did not meet with U.S. President Barack Obama  on the latter’s visit to Cuba in March 2016, although sent him a letter stating that Cuba “has no need of gifts from the empire”.

Cuban state television announced just after midnight on November 26, 2016, that Castro had died in Havana.

Wipedia has dedicated an entire page to his numerous assassination attempts.

He even had an IMBD Page.

Here are some good links to read more about Fidel Castro.

He was beloved and despised depending on who you talk to. No matter what his behavoir changed the world in many ways good and bad. So we owe it ourselves to learn about that and the lessons we can learn from his life and death.


Source: Wikapedia/IMBD




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