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Fidel Castro - History

Fidel Castro - History

Fidel Castro

1926-2011

Cuban Politician

Fidel Castro was born in Biran Cuba on August 13, 1926. He was educated as a lawyer and began his career as an opponent of Cuban President Batista. In 1954, he led an unsuccessful revolt against Batista and was forced to flee the country. In 1956, he returned with a small invasion force that was also unsuccessful. After waging a guerrilla campaign for two years, he led a large-scale attack against Batista and forced him to flee the country.
Though the US initially supported him, he soon developed strong ties with the USSR, which turned that support into strong opposition. Castro, in power for decades, had been one of the world's last hold-outs as a Communist leader. He retired in 2008 turning over the leadership of the country to his brother Raul


Biography of Fidel Castro, President of Cuba for 50 Years

Fidel Castro (August 13, 1926–November 25, 2016) took control of Cuba by force in 1959 and remained its dictatorial leader for nearly five decades. As the leader of the only communist country in the Western Hemisphere, Castro was long the focus of international controversy.

Fast Facts: Fidel Castro

  • Known For: President of Cuba, 1959–2008
  • Born: August 13, 1926 in the province of Orient, Cuba
  • Parents: Ángel Maria Bautista Castro y Argiz and Lina Ruz González
  • Died: November 25, 2016 in Havana, Cuba
  • Education: Colegio de Dolores in Santiago de Cuba, Colegio de Belén, University of Havana
  • Spouse(s): Mirta Diaz-Balart (m. 1948–1955), Dalia Soto del Valle (1980–2016) Partners: Naty Revuelta (1955–1956), Celia Sánchez, others.
  • Children: One son Fidel Castro Diaz-Balart (known as Fidelito, 1949–2018) with Diaz-Balart five sons (Alexis, Alexander, Alejandro, Antonio, and Ángel) with Soto del Valle one daughter (Alina Fernandez) with Naty Revuelta

25 Rare Pictures of Fidel Castro

Fidel Castro was a Cuban revolutionary and politician who was Prime Minister of Cuba from 1959-1976 and President from 1976 to 2008. Castro followed the doctrine of Carl Marx and served as the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba from 1961-2011. Castro turned Cuba into a one-party socialist state.

Castro studied law at the University of Havana where he developed extreme anti-imperialist, leftist sentiments. He participated in rebellions in the Dominican Republic and Colombia against the conservative establishments before turning his sights on Cuba.

Castro planned a coup of the Cuban President Fulgencio Batista. On July 26, 1953 Castro and his band of 135 rebel revolutionaries attacked the Moncada military barracks in Santiago de Cuba. The coup failed and Castro was imprisoned.

Upon his release, Castro went to Mexico and formed revolutionary group, the 26 of July Movement, with his brother Raul Castro and Che Guevara. Castro led his newly formed rebel group back to Cuba in a second attempt to overthrow President Batista. On January 1, 1959, Castro successfully dismantled the established regime and assumed military and political power as Prime Minister of Cuba, which became the first communist state in the Western Hemisphere.

The United States opposed Castro&rsquos government and attempted, unsuccessfully, to remove him from power. The US government attempted to strangle the Cubans through economic blockade, and instigate a counter revolution with the Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961. The United States CIA attempted to assassinate Castro 638 different times.

Castro, in response to American opposition, formed an alliance with the Soviet Union and allowed the USSR to keep nuclear weapons in Cuba, beginning the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Public opinion of Fidel Castro is polarized. Supporters view his as a champion of socialism and anti-imperialism who liberated Cuba and installed progressive economic policies and social justice despite American imperialism and opposition. Critics view Castro as a dictator who impoverished Cuba through failed economic policy and oversaw human-rights abuses such as political abuses of psychiatry, political executions, brutal campaigns against homosexuals, institutionalized racism and the utilization of forced labor camps.

Fidel Castro and revolutionaries in the Sierra Maestra Mountains. PBS Fidel Castro and Che Guevara, 1959. Fidel sent Guevara to Bolivia because he was afraid that Che was getting ready to lead a coup against him. Pinterest CUBA. 1959. Times of euphoia as Fidel CASTRO and his army tries to drive through the city of Ciefuego, on their way to liberate Havana. Pinterest Fidel Castro plays baseball in Havana, 1959. gypsy.ninja Castro on the sugar plantation. Pinterest Fidel Castro on a sugarcane plantation, July 16, 1969. Castro would work the plantations to inspire and set an example for citizens. Pinterest Fidel Castro giving an interview in a car in 1964. EMGN Fidel Castro, Cuban revolutionary leader and President of the Council of State and Council of Ministers of the Republic of Cuba, during his visit to the Soviet Union. In the Irkutsk-Bratsk train © Vasily : Sputnik Cuban leader Fidel Castro and Chairman of the USSR Council of Ministers Nikita Khrushchev at the rostrum of the Lenin Mausoleum. Next to them- Kliment Voroshilov and Leonid Brezhnev. Moscow, 1963. Anatoliy Garanin:Sputnik Cuban leader Fidel Castro (left) talking with sculptor Yevgeny Vuchetich (right), the author of a memorial complex on Mamayev Hill © Aleksandr Smirnov : Sputnik Fidel Castro sitting on Yuri Gagarin&rsquos lap, Cuba, 196. Tumblr Fidel Castro Ruz, Cuban revolutionary leader, President of the Council of State and Council of Ministers of the Republic of Cuba, meets with Young Pioneers in Uzbekistan © Vasily : Sputnik


Fidel Castro sworn in as prime minister

On February 16, 1959, Fidel Castro is sworn in as prime minister of Cuba after leading a guerrilla campaign that forced right-wing dictator Fulgencio Batista into exile. Castro, who became commander in chief of Cuba’s armed forces after Batista was ousted on January 1, replaced the more moderate Miro Cardona as head of the country’s new provisional government.

Castro was born in the Oriente province in eastern Cuba, the son of a Spanish immigrant who had made a fortune building rail systems to transport sugar cane. He became involved in revolutionary politics while a student and in 1947 took part in an abortive attempt by Dominican exiles and Cubans to overthrow Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo. In the next year, he took part in urban riots in Bogota, Colombia. The most outstanding feature of his politics during the period was his anti-American beliefs he was not yet an overt Marxist.

In 1951, he ran for a seat in the Cuban House of Representatives as a member of the reformist Ortodoxo Party, but General Batista seized power in a bloodless coup d𠆞tat before the election could be held.

Various groups formed to oppose Batista’s dictatorship, and on July 26, 1953, Castro led some 160 rebels in an attack on the Moncada Barracks in Santiago de Cuba𠄼uba’s second largest military base. Castro hoped to seize weapons and announce his revolution from the base radio station, but the barracks were heavily defended, and more than half his men were captured or killed.

Castro was himself arrested and put on trial for conspiring to overthrow the Cuban government. During his trial, he argued that he and his rebels were fighting to restore democracy to Cuba, but he was nonetheless found guilty and sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Two years later, Batista felt confident enough in his power that he granted a general amnesty for all political prisoners, including Castro. Castro then went with his brother Raul to Mexico, and they organized the revolutionary 26th of July Movement, enlisting recruits and joining up with Ernesto 𠇌he” Guevara, an idealist Marxist from Argentina.

On December 2, 1956, Castro and 81 armed men landed on the Cuban coast. All of them were killed or captured except for Castro, Raul, Che, and nine others, who retreated into the Sierra Maestra mountain range to wage a guerrilla war against the Batista government. They were joined by revolutionary volunteers from all over Cuba and won a series of victories over Batista’s demoralized army. Castro was supported by the peasantry, to whom he promised land reform, while Batista received aid from the United States, which bombed suspected revolutionary positions.

By mid-1958, a number of other Cuban groups were also opposing Batista, and the United States ended military aid to his regime. In December, the 26th of July forces under Che Guevara attacked the city of Santa Clara, and Batista’s forces crumbled. Batista fled for the Dominican Republic on January 1, 1959. Castro, who had fewer than 1,000 men left at the time, took control of the Cuban government’s 30,000-man army. The other rebel leaders lacked the popular support the young and charismatic Castro enjoyed, and on February 16 he was sworn in as prime minister.


Why Was The Bay of Pigs Invasion A Failure?

The first part of the plan was to destroy Castro’s tiny air force, making it impossible for his military to resist the invaders. On April 15, 1961, a group of Cuban exiles took off from Nicaragua in a squadron of American B-26 bombers, painted to look like stolen Cuban planes, and conducted a strike against Cuban airfields. However, it turned out that Castro and his advisers knew about the raid and had moved his planes out of harm’s way. Frustrated, Kennedy began to suspect that the plan the CIA had promised would be 𠇋oth clandestine and successful” might in fact be “too large to be clandestine and too small to be successful.”

But it was too late to apply the brakes. On April 17, the Cuban exile brigade began its invasion at an isolated spot on the island’s southern shore known as the Bay of Pigs. Almost immediately, the invasion was a disaster. The CIA had wanted to keep it a secret for as long as possible, but a radio station on the beach (which the agency’s reconnaissance team had failed to spot) broadcast every detail of the operation to listeners across Cuba. Unexpected coral reefs sank some of the exiles’ ships as they pulled into shore. Backup paratroopers landed in the wrong place. Before long, Castro’s troops had pinned the invaders on the beach, and the exiles surrendered after less than a day of fighting 114 were killed and over 1,100 were taken prisoner.


Review of Fidel Castro and Baseball: The Untold Story

Peter C. Bjarkman was a giant in the field of sport history. Over the course of his prodigious career, Bjarkman authored over 40 books and contributed chapters and articles to edited collections. The Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) honored him with its prestigious Henry Chadwick Award in 2017. I first encountered his work in graduate school when I read Baseball with a Latin Beat (McFarland, 1994). His A History of Cuban Baseball, 1864-2006 (McFarland, 2007) is widely considered a definitive work on the subject. Sadly, Bjarkman passed away in 2018. At that time, he had a manuscript ready for publication and another work progress. This is a review of the former, Fidel Castro and Baseball: The Untold Story, published by Rowman & Littlefield in 2019.

As the title suggests, Fidel Castro and Baseball examines the complicated and, according to Bjarkman, often misunderstood relationship the former Cuban leader had with baseball. From his perspective, many scholars and writers, particularly in recent works, repackaged or produced flawed interpretations of Castro, the Cuban Revolution, and Cuban baseball for a variety of reasons, ranging from uncritical use of sources to lingering Cold War antipathy. Whatever the underlying reason(s), Bjarkman asserted they have given rise to myths surrounding Castro and Cuban baseball, such as Castro as a professional pitching prospect, that Castro destroyed Cuban baseball, and that Castro degraded Cuban baseball by using it for political propaganda. Further, he argued that these myths blurred perceptions of Castro and Cuban baseball, especially from the U.S. point of view, which limited understandings of both.

Bjarkman challenged these myths in Fidel Castro and Baseball, devoting the first of the book’s three sections to myths surrounding Castro and the Cuban Revolution generally, the origin of the Castro as a pitching prospect myth, and Castro’s integration of the pitching prospect myth into his public image after the Revolution. He took a nuanced, and somewhat sympathetic, approach to Castro and the Cuban Revolution, rejecting Cold War-influenced interpretations that have suggested that Castro and his contemporaries acting in bad faith or betrayed the original goals of the revolt against Fulgencio Batista. Instead, Bjarkman traced the evolution of Castro’s rhetoric and actions before and after 1959, leaving the impression that waging an insurgency was far different from organizing and defending a revolutionary government. In effect, Castro and his contemporaries made decisions based on and in response to a range of variables rather than just ideology, although ideology played a significant role in shaping both the decisions made and the decision-making process.

Bjarkman then turned his attention to one of the most pervasive myths about Castro: the professional pitching prospect turned Marxist rebel leader. Like most myths, there was a seed of truth to it. While at the University of Havana, Castro played several sports including pitching as a freshman for the law school’s intramural baseball team. Supposedly on a lark, Castro attended one of Washington Senators scout Joe Cambria’s mass tryouts, but was never considered a serious pro prospect. As for the myth, Bjarkman attributed its genesis to an interview of Don Hoak, a former major league baseball player, conducted by journalist Myon Cope, which was published in Sport magazine in June 1964. In what Bjarkman terms “Hoak’s Hoax,” Hoak fabricated a story of a young Castro taking the mound and pitching to him while Hoak played in Havana around 1950 or 1951. Even though this story could be easily debunked, journalists, writers, and even historians repeated and embellished it. Castro never really denied this growing myth because it was useful to his ends. After the Revolution’s victory, he recognized the importance of baseball in Cuban culture and attempted to incorporate it in the new order. The famed or infamous “Barbubos” exhibition game on July 24, 1959, with Castro on the mound, was a good example of these efforts. This myth became part of historical memory, a popular counterfactual, and reinforced the link between the Revolution’s leader and the most popular sport on the island.

The second section addresses the myths of Castro solely destroying Cuban baseball after the Revolution and how Castro “politicized” the sport. At times, this section felt like Bjarkman’s response or counterargument to recent works on Cuban baseball, particularly César Brioso’s Havana Hardball (University Press of Florida, 2015). Rather than blaming Castro and the Revolution for the end of the Cuban League and the Havana Sugar Kings leaving for New Jersey, Bjarkman outlined the financial toll and trend in low attendance for the Cuban League and the Sugar Kings, efforts made by Castro and the new government to keep the Sugar Kings in Havana, and moves made by Organized Baseball that left the situation in Cuban untenable. When confronted with this and other challenges, Castro and his contemporaries chose to shift Cuban baseball from an U.S.-dominated, capitalist model to a socialist one. In February 1961, all Cuban sports were reorganized under INDER (Instituto Nacional de Deportes, Educación Física y Recreación), a government agency that oversaw all sports on the island. The professional Cuban League gave way to an amateur National Series in 1962, though Bjarkman argued this was more of a rhetorical shift since Cuban ballplayers received considerable government subsidies. Castro and Revolutionary Cuba also mobilized sports, especially baseball, as a tool of soft power. After a few transitional years, the Cuban national baseball team dominated in international competitions from the late-1960s to the 1990s. Ultimately, Bjarkman contended that the end of professional and Organized Baseball on the island did not kill Cuban baseball the system transformed to a socialist model, enjoyed international success, and, along with educational and health care reforms, was hailed as one of the most successful programs of Revolutionary Cuba.

The third and final section posits that Cuban baseball’s decline occurred after Cuba’s special period. The fall of the Soviet Union strained Cuba’s economic and financial situation in the early 1990s. Cuts in funding and resources coincided with increased “baseball diplomacy” and contact with Major League Baseball (MLB). Bjarkman observed an uptick in Cuban ballplayer defections during this time. From the 1960s forward, Cuban baseball players participated in and symbolized the Revolution. Defecting, especially during the special period, came with a sense of betrayal and condemnations, but Cuban ballplayers made individual decisions based on personal and social pressures. Major League Baseball capitalized on this situation through increased scouting, the facilitation of defections, and, by the 2010s, a closer cooperation with the Cuban government. Bjarkman noted the final irony of the socialist baseball system created under Castro after 1961 – it developed some of the best baseball teams in the world, but then had many of its best players leave for MLB’s capitalist system, which led to a decline in the overall quality of Cuban baseball.

Overall, Bjarkman’s Fidel Castro and Baseball accomplished its goals of debunking myths and providing a deeper interpretation of Castro’s relationship with baseball. The thorough treatment of the first myth – Castro as a professional pitching prospect – alone makes this book a needed and useful addition to the literature on Cuban baseball, but Bjarkman extended the same care with all his other arguments as well. Throughout the book, he never strayed too far from bringing his interpretation in conversation with other works, at times praising them and at other times sharply critiquing them. Admittedly, after reading and revisiting it, Fidel Castro and Baseball left me with a bittersweet feeling because I realized this would most likely be Bjarkman’s last statement in a conversation, and historiography, that he in many ways started.


The People’s Dictator: The Life of Fidel Castro

If there is one man who was famous for his ability to endure, survive, and outlast all of his critics, that man would be Fidel Castro. Fidel Castro, before his recent passing, had been one of the most important figures in Cuban history, for he was the man responsible for completely overhauling the Cuban government and imposing a communist regime that survives to this day.

Fidel Castro got his start as a young man seeking out justice for the Cuban people. The leader of Cuba at during the 1940s, was General Batista. Batista had fomented his own revolution and had taken control of Cuba, after having lost an election. His own policies were friendly to the west and he was accused of being a puppet of the United States government, as the United States had staunchly supported Batista’s administration. America had been greatly interested in Cuba for its rich natural resources and there were many American companies in Cuba, before Castro came around.

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Fidel Castro was desperate to be the leader of the Cuban people, and viewed Batista’s rule as illegitimate. He had greatly despised Batista’s revolution and desired change. His own party refused to back him running for Congress in Cuba, fearing his extremist views. Castro was a revolutionary from the very beginning, and made the decision that there could only be violence in order to secure control of Cuba. He began to build his own military network of dissidents and communists who desired to fight against the powers that were.

Batista grew in power as Fidel’s revolutionaries prepared for guerrilla warfare. They didn’t have the numbers nor the strength to be able to outright overpower Batista and his forces, instead they opted for a progressive campaign of harassment and violence.

In 1953, Fidel Castro and his allies were captured and arrested for their crimes against Batista. They had attempted to attack barricades owned by the military, only to be arrested after they had been routed by the machine gun fire of their foes. They were put on trial and Fidel along with 25 other men were thrown in prison for quite some time.

Over the years, Fidel and his men grew stronger in power. They managed to flee the country, hiding out overseas, waiting until the time was right to return to Cuba and strike. More guerilla forces had chosen to hide out in the mountains, and over time, Fidel and his network was able to grow in enough strength to provide a real threat to Batista, despite the fact that Batista’s men were constantly capturing and killing the revolutionaries.

Guerrilla warfare works a little differently than traditional warfare and Batista soldiers, despite being a larger force, were unable to win engagements against Fidel and his army. Fidel utilized landmines and brushfire tactics in order to enable quick movement of troops, consistently fighting against his opponents and breaking their will to fight back. As the revolutionary forces won victories, many soldiers began to defect and join Castro’s side.

At Santa Clara in December 28, 1958, 300 of Castro’s revolutionaries seized the city, greeted as liberators from Batista’s reign. This was enough to scare Batista and his political allies. The capture of the city had been quick, it had fell in less than 12 hours, prompting Batista to panic. In less than three days after the city was captured, Batista fled the country with over $300 million in cash and artifacts. Never again was he to return to Cuba. This left only one man truly in charge: Fidel Castro.

Castro was a radical communist. He was a sly one, however, because he had made a point to hide his radical leanings in order to garner support from the moderates who had opposed Batista’s reign. His brother, Raul Castro, was a hard-core communist, as well as Che Guevara, one of Fidel’s close friends. Castro liked to preach about equality and the brutality of his opponent, Batista, but once Castro finally was confirmed as the leader of Cuba, his actions quickly began to show that perhaps things weren’t quite as different.

While Castro believed that he was standing up for the common people, he made a point to eliminate as many political opponents as he could. With the help of his firing squads, he committed to a series of mass executions against those who supported Batista’s reign. He argued that these men were murderers and were deserving of justice by execution.

The start of Castro’s reign did not bode well for international relations. Fidel Castro was a communist, and he believed in all of the trappings of a communist society. He was relatively hostile with the West, and had a great dislike for the United States of America. Fidel’s use of firing squads, without legitimate trials, where quick to catch the attention of America. He was a man who had no problem with suppressing people who disagreed with his regime. He had utilized the many different rebel forces in his process of taking over Cuba, however as soon as he had taken over, he quickly turned on the rebels who did not agree with him. He made certain to cull all of these opposing forces so that there was only one party left in Cuba: his party.

Castro’s hostility to the West was also a problem. Beforehand, during Batista’s rule, the United States had a significant amount of influence in Cuba and trade was open with them. Castro began to nationalize many of the resources, kicking out the American companies which controlled the oil. This caused America to react angrily, eliminating their sugar imports from Cuba. This only led to more frustration, due to Cuba’s reliance on exporting sugar. This prompted Castro enact more nationalization, seizing control from the American companies and ensuring that they would have no influence on the Fatherland.

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As Castro continued to implement more communist policies such as increasing wages for the common man and reducing wages for the wealthier, Cuba began to experience an immigration phenomenon known as brain drain. Brain drain is where a country begins to lose its educated and wealthy individuals who, for economic reasons, decide to move somewhere else. Most communist systems struggle with brain drain, due to the fact that socialism and communism inherently focus on evenly distributing wealth from other people. Those who are wealthy might not like the communist redistribution system make the decision to leave as quickly as they can. Brain drain removes the skilled, talented and educated from the country, leaving only the poor workers behind.

Cuba began to suffer from a series of economic decline. As America continued to grow more aggressive and hostile towards Castro’s reign, as it was becoming increasingly clear that Castro empathized with the Soviets cause, they implemented an embargo against Cuba. This embargo was a major deathblow to Castro’s economic prosperity. Without the money coming in from US purchases, especially from the sugar trade, it was apparent that the New World was not going to get along with Castro. Castro, however, used this as an excuse to continue cracking down on political dissidents and focused on doing everything he could to remove those in his regime who would speak out against his actions.

It was during 1961 that Fidel Castro declared the United States Embassy to be full of spies and ordered the embassy to reduce the number of people who are currently there. This was the final nail in the coffin for United States relationships with Castro, and Dwight David Eisenhower began to authorize the idea of the CIA overthrow of Castro and his regime.

In December 1961, several CIA agents began working with a local Democratic insurgency to fight against Castro’s regime on Cuban soil. Their attempts, at the Bay of Pigs, was a failure and they were all promptly arrested. After some negotiation, the CIA agents were returned home in exchange for money and food. This gave Castro even more excuse to begin throwing political dissidents into work camps. These work camps were designed to put those whom he disagreed with into forced labor. One demographic that he targeted for these camps were homosexuals. At the time, Fidel Castro believed that homosexuality was nothing more than a deviancy and insisted on having those who were gay thrown into the work camps where they would be forced to work in order to support the communist regime.

The United States was nothing except hostile to Fidel Castro. Castro, however, seemed to be relatively bulletproof. The sheer amount of assassination attempts on Fidel Castro were staggeringly high. Not only did the United States have the backing of the CIA in order to help kill Castro, they also had contacts with the Mafia, who had also been hostile to Castro for his decision to kick all the casinos out of Cuba. The sheer number of assassination attempts have been said to amount up to 638. The plans to kill him were often convoluted and insane. For example, there was one plan to kill Castro by poisoning a cigar of his. Another plan was to plant depth charges at the bottom of a coral reef, for they knew he liked to scuba dive. They hoped to kill the man while he was busy swimming in the waters, a plan that was massive impractical and relatively unachievable. Despite the large amount of assassination plans and attempts, they were never able to kill Castro. In fact, Castro outlived many of his political opponents.

One of the tensest periods of Castro’s reign was known as the Cuban Missile Crisis. The Cuban Missile Crisis occurred when the Soviets began to consider placing missile batteries on Cuba, essentially giving Cuba nuclear capabilities. They weren’t sure about this plan, but Castro believed that this would further strengthen his country and make them a threat towards the Americans. America certainly did not like the fact that a nuclear missile site would be a mere 50 miles away from Florida, and stated that such an action would be perceived as hostile towards America.

This led to an intense tension between America and the Soviet Union, who did not desire war. The Cold War was a long-standing battle of ideals between America and the communist world. Both parties had access to nuclear weaponry but both parties were desperate to avoid war. In fact, the Soviet Union leader, Khrushchev, believed that Castro was crazy enough to use the weapons. Especially because Castro was a calling for threatening a nuclear strike against America unless they were left alone. This raised tensions between all parties, but the Cuban Missile Crisis ended when Khrushchev met with the American leaders and they made an agreement to remove the nuclear weapons from Cuba. This was a slap in the face to Castro, because he had not been invited to the meeting.

Castro continued his reign, still implementing the communist ideals and never once allowing for the west to bully or manipulate him. Aside from the human rights issues that were numerous under Castro’s reign, he did achieve some level of good while he was in control of the Cuban people. For example, he made a point to increase the literacy in Cuba to 99%. This is an extremely high number, and shows that Castro did indeed raise some levels of quality of life. The healthcare in Cuba was universal and has been considered a model to use by other socialist countries. On the other hand, it is hard to reconcile his actions of suppression, brutality and violence with the few beneficial things that he did for the Cuban people.

As the years passed by, it became clear that the United States embargo was a failure against breaking Castro’s strength. Regardless of the destruction of the Soviet Union, Fidel Castro held onto his power tightly. It was very clear, even up to the end, he was more or less untouchable. Fidel Castro held strong, until he grew ill in 2006. With his declining health temporarily gave control to his brother Raul Castro, and later made the decision due to health reasons, the step down permanently as the President of Cuba, allowing for his brother to take his place.

In 2016, at the age of 90, Fidel Castro died. He had lived a very long life, fighting against the powers at an early age, taking control Cuba and leading it, for better or worse, for the rest of his life. He outlived 10 American Presidents, 638 assassination attempts and the Soviet Union. Fidel Castro was a man with a mixed legacy, depending on who you ask. His work in healthcare and alleviating the plight of the common worker, has been received well across the world by those who have sympathy to the socialist and communist system. To those people, Fidel Castro was a hero, and the actions that he did, while immoral, were necessary to facilitate a new world free of capitalist oppression. To those, however, who fled from Castro’s rain, they were less sympathetic to his actions. As of right now, there are a great many Cuban refugees in the United States who are cheering and celebrating the death of this dictator.

Regardless of how the world has seen Castro, there is one thing that there can be no doubt: he made a tremendous change in Cuba. His legacy will go in history for all ages, but whether that legacy is a good thing or bad thing, we may never really know. After all, history is in the eye of the beholder.


American Experience

Fidel Castro's life story is not the story of the leader of a poor underdeveloped nation struggling to survive against the fierce opposition of the United States. For four decades, Castro purposely stood at the center of the dangerous game the United States, the Soviet Union and sometimes China played for political pre-eminence in the Third World. By deftly manipulating the opportunities afforded Cuba by the Cold War, he managed to turn his island into a launching pad for the projection of his leadership throughout the world.

Castro and Nikita Khrushchev hug. Credit: JFK Library

Soviet Protection

Castro's courtship of the Soviet Union began shortly after the revolution with a visit to Havana by Soviet Vice Premier Anastas Mikoyan. As he took on the United States he knew he needed Soviet protection in order to survive. The Soviets played a cautious game, but could not pass up an opportunity to gain a toehold in the Western Hemisphere, ninety miles from the United States. At the end of Mikoyan's visit, the Soviets agreed to buy Cuban sugar in exchange for Soviet oil. The United States, already concerned with Castro's anti-American rhetoric, saw the agreement as a betrayal, and asked U.S. companies in Cuba not to refine the Soviet crude oil. Relations began spiraling down, until their final break in January 1961.

Castro in 1961. Credit: WGBH archives

Nuclear Crisis

In December 1961, only a few months after the U.S.-sponsored exile invasion at Bay of Pigs, Fidel Castro declared himself a Marxist-Leninist, obligating the Soviet Union to protect his new, vulnerable socialist nation. Shortly thereafter he asked the Soviet Union for weapons, advisers, and even Soviet soldiers. The Soviets proposed a different defense -- medium-range ballistic missiles. Castro agreed. When in October 1962 American U-2 spy planes photographed missile sites in Cuba, the world approached the brink of a nuclear confrontation. As the tensions of the Missile Crisis escalated, Castro wrote Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev urging him to use the missiles and to sacrifice Cuba if necessary. Unbeknownst to the Cuban leader, Khrushchev had already reached an agreement with President John F. Kennedy to withdraw the missiles, without consulting Castro. The Cuban leader found out from a friend, the editor of the newspaper Revolución, Carlos Franqui. Castro was infuriated to discover that the Soviet Union would treat Cuba just as the United States had -- as an insignificant island in the middle of the Caribbean.

In the end, Castro emerged a winner. President Kennedy secretly pledged to Khrushchev that the United States would not invade Cuba. Yet the Cuban revolution continued to face threats, as a U.S. covert war code-named Operation Mongoose proceeded. And the economic embargo the U.S. had imposed in 1961 continued unabated.

Committed to World Revolution

Castro was fiercely committed to creating his own revolutionary world and to fighting imperialism whenever and wherever the opportunity arose -- in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East. "Any revolutionary movement, in any corner of the world, can count on the help of Cuban fighters," he told a audience of Third World revolutionary leaders in early 1966. When his revolutionary goals clashed with those of his Soviet benefactor he nevertheless pursued them. Among Kremlin officials he became known as "the viper in our breast."

Defeat and Betrayal

Castro's world revolution eluded him. His guerrilla armies were defeated by U.S. counterinsurgency forces and betrayed by Soviet-run Communist parties the world over. Most poignantly, in Bolivia, Che Guevara Castro's chief instrument of world revolution, met his death in 1967.

Good Neighbors

As the Cold War settled into détente in the early 1970s, Fidel Castro, following the Soviet line, began to soften his own antagonistic rhetoric against the United States. "We are neighbors," he told reporter Barbara Walters in 1974, "and we ought to get along." Cuban and American officials met secretly at La Guardia Airport and at the Hotel Pierre to work out a rapprochement. When Secretary of State Henry Kissinger announced in 1975 that the U.S. was ready to "begin a new relationship," the two nations stood on the brink of an agreement.

Castro's Choice

Then, 15 years after the triumph of the Cuban revolution, Fidel Castro made what was perhaps the most important choice of his life, one which would determine the future of Cuba-U.S. relations into the 21st century. In 1974-75, just as the normalization of relations between the U.S. and Cuba seemed imminent, Fidel Castro saw an opportunity to rekindle his international revolution.

After five centuries as a colony of Portugal, Angola in West Africa was due to receive its independence in November 1975. The country edged toward civil war as three separate groups bid to rule the country. Cuba had been supporting the Movement for the Independence of Angola (M.P.L.A.) since the 1960s. The Marxist leader Agostinho Neto had close ties to Havana and was favored by the Cubans. Castro faced a choice: intervention in Angola or relations with the United States. On November 7, 1975, he personally saw the departure of an airlift taking Cuban special troops into Angola's capital, Luanda, followed by two passenger ships carrying regular troops into the field of battle. When Cuba took the initiative, Moscow followed with support. "They've made a choice which, in effect, and I do mean very literally, has precluded any improvement in our relations with Cuba," President Gerald Ford said.

Afghanistan

Angola launched Castro onto the world stage. In the words of Cuban analyst William Leogrande, "the Cuban intervention in Angola identifies Cuba as a country that is willing to take a risk, willing to put its own interests on the line, willing to provoke a confrontation with the United States in support of national liberation in Africa." On the strength of his wild popularity in Africa, Castro, in September 1979, was elected leader of the Non-Aligned Movement. That October he traveled to New York to address the U.N. General Assembly, demanding an international redistribution of wealth and income in favor of the poor countries of the world. "Those months in the fall of 1979 were the apogee of his power," CIA analyst Brian Latell later observed. "How can you be a loyal, dependable Soviet ally and accept about $6 billion of Soviet assistance annually, and at the same time be the leader of the non-aligned nations? Well, Castro was able to carry out that exquisite, seemingly impossible balancing act." Then, on New Year's Day 1980, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, a non-aligned nation. Castro's foreign policy received a crushing blow.

Ronald Reagan led an aggressive campaign against Castro and Communism. Credit: Reagan Library

Latin America

President Ronald Reagan came into office determined to fight the spread of Communism, beginning close to home. The Sandinistas' 1979 victory had been a huge triumph for Fidel Castro. A leftist regime, loyal to Cuba, was the foothold he had been looking for since the 1960s. Now he could support a growing insurrection in neighboring El Salvador and in Guatemala. In 1980 he acquired another ally, Maurice Bishop in the Caribbean island of Grenada. The Reagan administration went on the offensive. Reagan tightened the U.S. economic embargo, funded the Contras to wage war against the Nicaragua's Sandinistas, invaded Grenada in 1983, and launched a campaign to expose Cuba's human rights record. Castro, in turn, put Cuba on high alert, calling the Reagan administration "a reactionary extremist clique," waging "an openly warmongering and fascist foreign policy." Reagan checked Castro's advances in the Northern hemisphere. But once again, it was the superpowers who would determine Fidel Castro's fate.

The End of the Cold War

In 1985, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev launched glasnost and perestroika, economic and political reforms designed to save Communism and revive the Soviet Union's economy. Castro rejected Gorbachev's reforms, which he believed "represented a threat to fundamental socialist principles." But even Gorbachev's reforms could not save Communism, and in 1991, the Soviet Union collapsed. For Castro, it was an enormous blow. "To speak of the Soviet Union collapsing is as if to speak of the sun not shining," he had said. And the sun went away. Castro lost more than $6 billion in annual economic assistance. The socialist world, the world he had chosen to join, had come to an end.

"Like a man at the horse races he bet all his money on a horse." Cuba critic Ricardo Bofill has said, "And he bet on the wrong horse."


*This article was originally published on the site for the 2005 American Experience documentary Fidel Castro.


The absence of participative management style

Fidel Castro was known for his authoritative leadership style and therefore did not allow for participative management styles. He was very authoritative and he dictated all the policies and procedures. He directed and controlled all activities without the inclusion of his members of the government or the people of Cuba on a whole. The people of Cuba were not free to leave the country as they pleased. For example, going on a vacation to another country was not allowed. Cubans can travel only if the government authorizes them to do so.

He did not include his ministers in his decision making process. He would make the decisions and then advise them. They were not allowed to dispute his decisions. Fidel did not share information with his colleagues. Therefore it was difficult for his Ministers to exhibit their skills and talents. His ministers were not allowed to determine work schedules for the development of Cuba, neither were they given enough opportunities to make decisions regarding the budget for the country. Fidel and his brother Raul made many of those decisions. This resulted in his ministers and followers were not motivated and they felt that they were not given the opportunity to be part of many of the decisions he made. Because of his leadership style, creativity and innovation were two crucial elements his ministers were lacking. The only time Fidel delegated his powers, was when he got sick and was unable to rule Cuba any longer. He delegated his power to his younger brother, Raul Castro. Raul was given the leadership by Fidel Castro. The people of Cuba were not given the opportunity to vote for a leader. In this instance we can conclude that nepotism was a factor in his decision making. (The First post, 2010).

Participative management is very important in organizations because leaders and managers should seek to make the most of its followers. Their followers should be given the opportunity be part of the decision making process. By doing so, new ideas can be developed and implemented for the betterment of the organization. (Author unknown, 2010).


Fidel Castro’s childhood plea to President Roosevelt

Did you know that Fidel Castro, when he was just 14 years old, wrote a letter to President Franklin D. Roosevelt during World War II?

How many of us, at such a young age, have written a letter to our President or any other country’s president?

During the years that President Roosevelt was in office, he received thousands of letters in which people from all around the world wished him luck, congratulated him on his reelection, asked him questions, made requests, and shared their concerns, suggestions, and criticisms.

Over 74 years ago, on November 6, 1940, even the future leader of the Cuban revolution sent a letter to the President of the United States. Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz grew up to become one of the most famous figures of the 20th century. But as a child, he had a simpler request for the leader of his country’s neighbor to the north.

The young Fidel opens his letter with “My good friend Roosevelt” and asks the President to “give me a ten dollars bill green american” since he had not seen one. In a postscript, he even offers his help with the industrial sector by indicating that he can show the President “the biggest (minas) of iron in the land.” (There’s an interesting discrepancy in the letter: in 1940, Fidel was 14 years old, not 12 as he states.)

Years later, Fidel Castro told a reporter who was interviewing him in 1975 that he did, in fact, receive correspondence from the White House thanking him for his letter, but he never received the $10 bill.

Letter from Fidel Castro to President Franklin D. Roosevelt:

Santiago de Cuba, November 6th 1940

En español: La petición infantil de Fidel Castro al presidente Franklin D. Roosevelt

Continuando con nuestra celebración en el Mes Nacional de la Herencia Hispana, este artículo proviene de la interna Idaliz Marie Ortiz Morales, de la Oficina de Estrategia yComunicaciones de los Archivos Nacionales

¿Sabias que Fidel Castro, con apenas 14 años, escribió una carta dirigida al Presidente Franklin D. Roosevelt durante la segunda guerra mundial?

¿Cuantos de nosotros, a tan corta edad, le hemos escrito una carta a nuestro presidente o a algún presidente mundial?

Durante los años que el Presidente Roosevelt estuvo en la oficina, recibió miles de cartas en donde los ciudadanos y personas de otros países le deseaban suerte, lo felicitaban, le formulaban preguntas, le hacían peticiones, le compartían inquietudes, sugerencias y críticas, especialmente durante la segunda guerra mundial, al ser reelecto para la presidencia.

Hace más de 74 años, el 6 de noviembre de 1940, hasta el futuro líder de larevolución Cubana, le envió una carta al presidente de los Estados Unidos. Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz se convirtió en uno de los más famosos protagonistas del siglo XX. Pero cuando era niño, Fidel tenía una solicitud más simple para el líder del país vecino en el norte.

El joven Fidel abre su carta con “Mi buen amigo Roosevelt” y le pide al presidente que le “obsequie un billete verde americano de $10 dólares” ya que el nunca había visto “el dólar verde americano”. Además, en un posdata, le ofrece ayuda con el sector industrial indicándole que él le puede “enseñar donde están las minas más grandes de la tierra”. (Como dato curioso, Fidel no tiene los 12 años que dice tener en la carta sino que el escribe la carta teniendo 14 años de edad.)

List of site sources >>>


Watch the video: Fidel Castro - Military Leader u0026 President. Mini Bio. BIO (January 2022).