Fidel Castro

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Fidel Castro was born on August 13, 1926 in Biran, near Mayari, Cuba. His father Angel Castro y Argiz, originally from Spain, was relatively wealthy and owned a sugarcane plantation. His mother Lina Ruz Gonzalez had been a maid to Angel's first wife. He grew up in wealthy circumstances amid poverty. His original name was Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz.

After completing his elementary education at the private Catholic School, Fidel went to El Colegio de Belen, a Jesuit school in Havana in 1945. Fidel was an intellectually gifted student with an amazing memory-power. Fidel was, in fact, more interested in sports than in academics and while at Belen, Castro pitched on the school's baseball team. A peasant rebellion in Oriente during Castro's formative years is thought to have influenced his political leanings.

In 1953, Castro abandoned his law practice and led an armed group of fighters to overthrow Batista. On the 26th of July, 1953, they attacked Moncada Barracks, Batista's largest garrison outside Santiago de Cuba. In the battle, over sixty revolutionaries were killed and rests, including Fidel Castro, were sent to prison. Though the depose-attempt landed Castro in prison but it also fetched him popularity across Cuba.

After being released in 1955, Castro went to Mexico and met Argentine revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara to prepare for second attempt to topple Batista. Since regular contacts with KGB (Soviet Intelligence Agency) had not resulted in the hope for weapon supply, Castro and Guevara visited the United States of America to gather personnel and funds from Cubans living in the US.

After building up a stock of guns and ammunition, Castro, Che Guevara, Juan Almeida along with eighty other rebels set out from Tuxpan, Veracruz on November 26, 1956, for the purpose of starting a rebellion in Cuba. The group was trained under a veteran of Spanish Civil War and became known as the “July 26 Movement” (the date that Castro had attacked the Moncada barracks). Their plan was to set up their base in the Sierra Maestra mountains. On the way to the mountains they were attacked by government troops. By the time they reached the Sierra Maestra there were only sixteen men left with twelve weapons between them. For the next few months Castro's guerrilla army raided isolated army garrisons and were gradually able to build-up their stock of weapons.

In an attempt to crush the fighters of Castro and other resistant outfits, Batista launched, Operation Verano in 1958. Castro's guerrilla forces scored a series of victories, largely aided by Batista's uncommitted and poorly trained army When Operation Verano ended, Castro ordered three columns commanded by Guevara, Jaime Vega and Camilo Cienfuegos to invade central Cuba where they enjoyed the strong support of rebellious elements. In January 1959, Batista lost the battle at Santa Clara and fled to the Dominican Republic. The junta (military rule) selected Dr. Carlos Piedra, one of the oldest judges of the Supreme Court, as provisional President of Cuba but Castro refused to accept the selection. The workers came out on strike and the military were forced to accept the people's desire for change.

On January 8, 1959, Castro marched into Havana victoriously as Cuba’s new and popular leader. On January 5, on Castro’s demand, Dr. Urrutia, former judge of the Urgency Court of Santiago de Cuba, was installed as the Provisional President and Law professor Jose Miro Cardona as Prime Minister. Castro assumed the post of Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces on January 8. Following the sudden resignation of Jose Miro on February 16, 1959, Castro was sworn in as the new Prime Minister of Cuba.

On April 16, 1961, he formally declared Cuba a socialist state. The very next day, around 1,400 members Cuban exiles, trained by the Central Intelligence Agency, invaded at the Bay of Pigs. The Cuban armed forces repelled the invaders, killing many and capturing a thousand.

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Fidel Castro

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