Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz was born in the Mayari municipality in the province of Oriente, on August 13, 1926. He did his schooling in Santiago de Cuba and Havana. He practiced the spartan regiment at Colegio de Belen, a Jesuit boarding school. In 1945, Castro enrolled into the University of Havana to study law.
While still a student, Fidel Castro was married to Mirta Diaz-Balart in 1948. Their son, Fidel Castro Diaz-Balart, was born in 1949. In 1954, Fidel Castro was legally separated from his wife.
A Short Life Account
As a child, Castro showed great interest in the history and military affairs of Cuba. Many say that a peasant rebellion in Oriente influenced his political leanings, and he became involved with students' political and revolutionary groups as a student of law. On completion of his graduation in law, he offered free legal services to the poor and needy.
In 1952, Fidel Castro ran for a seat in the Cuban parliament. However, before the election could take place, Fulgencio Batista overthrew the Cuban parliament and military rule was established.
In 1953, Castro and his allies made an attempt to overthrow the military dictator. The attempt failed, and he was imprisoned. He became a well-reputed person among Cubans after his attack on the military regime.
In 1955, he was released under amnesty. He went into hiding in Mexico, and later in the US. During this time, Fidel Castro, his brother Raul, and Ernesto (Che) Guevara, an Argentinian revolutionary, were making plans to overthrow the military regime in Cuba.
On December 2, 1956, Castro, along with eighty-one insurgents came by a boat to attack the military barracks. It was a failure, and there were only a few survivors, including Guevara and the Castro brothers. They escaped to the Sierra Maestra Mountains, where they hid till they made a large-scale attack in 1958.
In January, 1959, Cuba was freed from Batista, and Castro became the prime minister of free Cuba. His position was immediately recognized by the US Government.
He nationalized the Cuban factories and plantations, inviting the ire of the US.
In 1961, under his leadership, the US-supported émigré invasion at the Bay of Pigs was stopped, putting an end to the American economic dominance. Castro established close relations with Soviet Union, and became reliant on their aid. Under his keen leadership, Cuba became the first communist nation in the Western hemisphere. However, Cuba had to face economic difficulties when the USSR collapsed in 1991, and he had to open the Cuban borders for foreign investors.
In December 1976, Fidel Castro became the 22nd President of Cuba. In the meantime, he was the target of the CIA reportedly 638 times, but none of the assassination attempts were successful.
While holding his office as the President, he opened 10,000 new schools, attempted to erase illiteracy, and built many health care centers. He was a dictator in his own way. Trade unions lost the power to strike, many newspaper companies were closed down, and religious institutions were harassed. Many Cubans fled to the US, seeking refuge from his rule.
The state of his health became a major issue in the late 1990s. On July 31, 2006, Fidel Castro underwent surgery for gastrointestinal bleeding. His brother Raul, who was Castro's second-in-command, was elected as his successor as the President of Cuba. The Cuban public, and in fact the entire world, have seen Fidel Castro only in photographs or in video footage since his surgery.