Fidel Castro Díaz-Balart: A Comprehensive Look at a Cuban Revolutionary and Leader

Cuban revolutionary and political leader Fidel Castro was a man who left a deep impression around the world. He was in power for nearly fifty years, taking control of the country of Cuba when he became the Prime Minister in 1959, and assumed the title of the President of the Council of State in 1976. Once in power, Castro and his Communist-based government completely changed the course of Cuba and its political and social history. Through this comprehensive look at Fidel Castro, we can explore the background of his life, his revolutionary and political actions, and also his legacy.

Early Life and Education

Fidel Castro was born on August 13th, 1926, in Birán in Holguin province, Cuba. He was the illegitimate son of Ángel Castro, an immigrant from Spain and a large landowner in the area. Fidel had one brother, Raúl, and two sisters named Angela and Juanita.

As a child, Fidel attended the Jesuits-run school in Santiago de Cuba and then the Catholic school in Colegio Belen in Havana. He received a law degree from the University of Havana in 1950. He then received further education in political and social sciences at the University of Mexico and at Harvard University.

Leading Cuban Revolution

Upon returning to Cuba, Fidel Castro began to develop his ideological views and beliefs in socialism and communism. He became a leader of the ’26th of July Movement’ during the opposition against dictator Fulgencio Batista.

In 1956, Castro and 81 of his followers sought refuge from Fulgencio Batista’s regime in the Sierra Maestra mountains. This was the start of what would become the Cuban Revolution. Between 1956 and 1959, the rebels fought a guerrilla war against the regime and eventually won.

The Cuban Revolution resulted in the downfall of Fulgencio Batista and his government, a victorious Fidel Castro became the Prime Minister of Cuba on February 16th, 1959. Demonstrating his commitment to bringing Communism to the newly liberated Cuba, Castro began a series of nationalizations and agricultural redistributions of land. This began to typically characterize his government’s rhetoric and policy maneuvers.

Castro’s Reforms

During Castro’s time in power, he implemented many changes and reforms across Cuba. Here is a list of some of his most significant efforts:

  • Expanded education, with educational programs beginning early in age. Since 1959, the Cuban government has made the elimination of illiteracy and access to education of its highest priority.

  • Nationalized the property of the wealthy and redistributed wealth to the poorer communities

  • Built medical centers and hospitals, making healthcare free to all citizens of Cuba

  • Nationalized the Cuban economy, with the creation of agricultural collectives for cooperatives and collectivized farms

  • Expanded literacy and social programs

  • Developed an extensive range of social welfare services, including pensions and housing subsidies

  • Closed off Cuba to the outside world, with only limited trade and travel

Cuban-US Relations

One of the most iconic moments of Fidel Castro’s rule was his response to the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. During this period, the United States blockaded Cuba to prevent the transportation of nuclear weapons from the Soviet Union. In response, Castro declared that Cuba was a socialist country, and that he would not allow US forces to invade Cuba.

This began an acrimonious relationship between Fidel Castro and the US. For decades, the US maintained a strict economic embargo on Cuba that prevented trade and investment with the island. In addition, the US also sponsored several covert attempts to undermine and overthrow the Cuban government.

The Legacy of Fidel Castro

Fidel Castro had a significant impact on Cuban politics and history. After his death on November 25th, 2016, his brother Raúl Castro assumed power and implemented many of his reforms in the years that followed.

Castro’s legacy is also felt around the world. He was well-known for his anti-imperialist speeches, he was a long-time advocate for social justice and he was responsible for opening up the people of Cuba to the world. He was also dedicated to ensuring the rights of the Cuban people and promoting economic development.

In the words of former US President Barack Obama: “…At this time of Fidel Castro’s passing, we extend a hand of friendship to the Cuban people… History will record and judge the enormous impact of this singular figure on the people and world around him”.

Fidel Castro was a revolutionary leader who changed the course of history in Cuba. His life and legacy will remain a symbol of strength and dedication. Castro stands as a reminder of the power of the people and the potential for a better future.