Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz led the Cuban Communist Party for more than half of a century following the fall of the militaristic and oppressive Batista dictatorship, which had came into power following a coup in 1952. He took power on January 1, 1959, promising a revolutionary turnaround, to a country severely afflicted by the 25-year old dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista. His embraced communism and the former Soviet Union Regime and almost brought the world to a tragic end with nuclear missiles. Fidel died on November 25, 2016, at the age of 90. Even so, he left behind a legacy characterized by the concept of totalitarian. His presidency was based on communist ideologies of Karl Max.
5. Early Life -
Fidel Castro was born in 1926 as the illegitimate son of a wealthy farmer named Angel Castro and Angel's servant, mistress, and wife-to-be Luna Ruz Gonzalez. He attended two boarding schools before going to El Colegio de Belen, a Jesuit-ran faculty in Havana. Fidel took law at the University of Havana from 1945 where his political mind came alive. While here, he became an influential critic and staunch anti-imperialist of the US involvement in the Caribbean affairs. He achieved publicity as a vocal critic of the US-backed president, Ramon Grau. Fidel went to participate in many violent gang cultures and militia operations transforming from a politically illiterate individual to a political activist in less than three years. He got involved with student-operated criminal enterprises. His anti-Imperialism passion drove him to join the university committee which sought to free the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. He even met Batista, during his early rise to fame. When the latter took the presidency and abolished elections, Castro started his rise to power.
4. Rise to Power -
As a Jesuit-educated lawyer, Castro led the Cuban revolution that ousted the U.S.-backed dictator, Fulgencio Batista. Castro launched the great Cuban revolution against Batista’s regime on July 26, 1953. He started by launching the failed Moncada barracks assault, in Santiago. Fidel Castro received a 15 year jail term, but he was later released in 1955 when Batista pardoned him. He spent his exile years in Mexico where he formed a small army with the aim of fighting Batista. His first attempt took place in early December 1956, but the Cuban government ambushed him, killing most of his 81 ragtag bands of followers. Only 12 of them including Fidel, Raul, and Guevara escaped. He then took refuge in Sierra Maestra Mountains, created a formidable guerrilla force that joined forces with the public rebel groups and finally defeated Batista in two years. During the Cold Wars, Castro aligned with the Soviet Union, embracing its concepts and ideologies becoming its principal benefactor for 30 years. The alliance brought billions worth foreign aid to Cuba including gas and oil. When the US discovered Soviet missile in the country, the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis emerged which almost set the world to an Armageddon crisis. When the Soviet Union finally collapsed in 1991, Castro retained his communist ideologies. He undertook series of tentative economic reforms like opening up tourism to save his failing economy. He even managed to patronize Chavez, the then Venezuelan president, to sell him cheap oil and other products.
3. Contributions -
When he came to power, Fidel was intent on transforming Cuba into an egalitarian state that provided equal social and economic opportunities to all Cubans. He sought to bring change to a society which had been depleted of basic humanitarian necessities and to rescue his country from what he perceived as a failing capitalist system. Fidel Castro improved the living conditions of the poor people in his country by bringing schools and hospitals to them. As a result, Cuba achieved a health and literacy level equal to the richest countries. To top it all, he cut down Mafia groups. Fidel also installed a lot of negative contributions to both Cuba and the world as a whole. He cracked on dissident, executed, or jailed opponents and homosexuals seized privately owned properties and monopolized the media. Outside his country, he sent more 350,000 soldiers to fight in Africa as a way of expanding his influence. These soldiers provided the much-needed support to the left-winged Angolan government. They contributed to the craved Namibian independence, a war that finally aided in ousting apartheid in South Africa. Over the years, he sent doctors abroad to care for the poor people and also brought young people from less developed countries and trained them as physicians.
2. Challenges -
Establishing Cuba as a Communist country at the United States' doorstep brought many challenges with it. For Castro to effectively transform Cuba from a playground used by wealthy Americans into Washington’s worst resistance, he had to overcome challenges brought about the US presidents, his loathed capitalists. He outlasted all of them but one. He claimed that the US had attempted to assassinate him many a time, but he survived them. He managed to fend off the 1961 US-supported invasion of the Bay of Pigs. As he swept away capitalism, new challenges emerged, this time from legions of critics and enemies concentrated among Miami-based exiles. These exiled people saw him as a ruthless tyrant.
1. Death and Legacy -
Fidel Castro died on November 25th, 2016. Raul Castro announced his death on Cuban State Television. After his demise, Fidel Castro’s 57-year-old position in power seems all the more significant. To many, he stifled on democracy, repressed speech, and crushed fundamental human rights. To his legion of followers, he was a hero who fed his poor, provided medicines to Latin America, appalled Capitalism, and pointed his gun to the northern Colossus. His most memorable legacy was his ability to create a communist state some 90 miles of the US shores, defying the United States attempts to topple him. He held on to his ideologies long after the collapse of the Soviet Union remaining a beacon of hope to lefties around the world who still struggled under and against colonial rule. Whether or not History will absolve him remains unseen, nevertheless, Fidel Castro was a figure to behold. He leaves behind the world’s longest serving president legacy for his half-of-a-century-long regime.
Who was Fidel Castro?
Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz led the Cuban Communist Party for more than half of a century following the fall of the militaristic and oppressive Batista dictatorship, which had came into power following a coup in 1952.
About the Author
Benjamin Elisha Sawe holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Statistics and an MBA in Strategic Management. He is a frequent World Atlas contributor.
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