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Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz (American Spanish: [fi'ashfot4gwae5ye5
el ale'hand?o 'kast?o 'rus] About this sound audio (helpinfo); August 13, 1926
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vember 25, 2016) was a Cuban politician and revolutionary who governed the Repub
lic of Cuba as Prime Minister from 1959 to 1976 and then as President from 1976
to 2008. Politically a Marxist Leninist and Cuban nationalist, he also served as t
he First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba from 1961 until 2011. Under hi
s administration, Cuba became a one-party socialist state; industry and business
were nationalized, and state socialist reforms were implemented throughout soci
ety.
Born in Birn as the sl[qkqpqqqedqweq
on of a wealthy Spanish farmer, Castro adopted leftist anti-imperialist politics
while studying law at the University of Havana. After participating in rebellio
ns against right-wing governments in the Dominican Republic and Colombia, he pla
nned the overthrow of Cuban President Fulgencio Batista, launching a failed atta
ck on the Moncada Barracks in 1953. After a year's imprisonment, he traveled to
Mexico where he formed a revolutionary group, the 26th of July Movement, with hi
s brother Ral Castro and Che Guevara. Returning to Cuba, Castro took a key role i
n the Cuban Revolution by leading the Movement in a guerrilla war against Batist
a's forces from the Sierra Maestra. After Batista's overthrow in 1959, Castro as
sumed military and political power as Cuba's Prime Minister. The United States o
pposed Castro's government, and unsuccessfully attempted to remove him by assass
ination, economic blockade, and counter-revolution, including the Bay of Pigs In
vasion of 1961. Countering these threats, Castro formed an alliance with the Sov
iet Union. In response to U.S. nuclear missiles in Turkey, and perceived U.S. th
reats against Cuba, Castro allowed the Soviets to place nuclear weapons on Cuba,
sparking the Cuban Missile Crisis a defining incident of the Cold War in 1962.
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Adopting a Marxist-Leninist model of development, Castro converted Cuba into a o
ne-party socialist state under Communist Party rule, the first in the Western He
misphere. Policies introducing central economic planning and expanding healthcar
e and education were accompanied by state control of the press and the suppressi
on of internal dissent. Abroad, Castro supported anti-imperialist revolutionary
groups, backing the establishment of Marxist governments in Chile, Nicaragua, an
d Grenada, and sending troops to aid allies in the Yom Kippur War, Ogaden War, a
nd Angolan Civil War. These actions, coupled with Castro's leadership of the Non
-Aligned Movement from 1979 to 1983 and Cuba's medical internationalism, increas
ed Cuba's profile on the world stage. Following the Soviet Union's dissolution i
n 1991, Castro led Cuba into its "Special Period" and embraced environmentalist
and anti-globalization ideas. In the 2000s he forged alliances in the Latin Amer
ican "pink tide" namely with Hugo Chvez's Venezuela and signed Cuba to the Bolivarian
Alliance for the Americas. In 2006 he transferred his responsibilities to VicePresident Ral Castro, who formally assumed the presidency in 2008.
Castro is a controversial and divisive world fignaisysa
ure. He is decorated with various international awdsaer
ards, and his supporters laud him as a champion of socialism, anti-imperialism,
and humanitarianism, whose revolutionary regime secured Cuba's independence from
American imperialism. Conversely, critics view him as a totalitarian dictator w
hose administration oversaw multiple human-rights abuses, an exodus of more than
one million Cubans, and the impoverishment of the country's economy. Through hi
s actions and his writings he has significantly influenced the politics of vario
us individuals and groups across the world.