Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz (/ˈkæstroʊ/; American
Spanish: [fiˈðel aleˈhandɾo ˈkastɾo
ˈrus] ( listen); August 13, 1926 – November 25, 2016) was
a Cuban politician and communist revolutionary who governed the
Cuba as Prime Minister from 1959 to 1976 and then as
President from 1976 to 2008. Politically a Marxist–Leninist and
Cuban nationalist, Castro also served as the First Secretary of the
Communist Party of Cuba
Communist Party of Cuba from 1961 until 2011. Under his
Cuba became a one-party communist state, while
industry and business were nationalized and state socialist reforms
were implemented throughout the society.
Born in Birán, Oriente as the son of a wealthy Spanish farmer, Castro
adopted leftist anti-imperialist politics while studying law at the
University of Havana. After participating in rebellions against
right-wing governments in the
Dominican Republic and Colombia, he
planned the overthrow of Cuban President Fulgencio Batista, launching
a failed attack on the
Moncada Barracks in 1953. After a year's
imprisonment, Castro traveled to Mexico where he formed a
revolutionary group, the 26th of July Movement, with his brother Raúl
Castro and Che Guevara. Returning to Cuba, Castro took a key role in
Cuban Revolution by leading the Movement in a guerrilla war
against Batista's forces from the Sierra Maestra. After Batista's
overthrow in 1959, Castro assumed military and political power as
Cuba's Prime Minister. The
United States came to oppose Castro's
government and unsuccessfully attempted to remove him by
assassination, economic blockade and counter-revolution, including the
Bay of Pigs Invasion
Bay of Pigs Invasion of 1961. Countering these threats, Castro formed
an alliance with the
Soviet Union and allowed the Soviets to place
nuclear weapons in Cuba, sparking the Cuban Missile Crisis — a
defining incident of the Cold War — in 1962.
Adopting a Marxist–Leninist model of development, Castro converted
Cuba into a one-party, socialist state under Communist Party rule, the
first in the Western Hemisphere. Policies introducing central economic
planning and expanding healthcare and education were accompanied by
state control of the press and the suppression of internal dissent.
Abroad, Castro supported anti-imperialist revolutionary groups,
backing the establishment of Marxist governments in Chile, Nicaragua
and Grenada, as well as sending troops to aid allies in the Yom
Kippur, Ogaden, and Angolan Civil War. These actions, coupled with
Castro's leadership of the
Non-Aligned Movement from 1979 to 1983 and
Cuba's medical internationalism, increased Cuba's profile on the world
stage. Following the Soviet Union's dissolution in 1991, Castro led
Cuba through the economic downturn of the "
Special Period", embracing
environmentalist and anti-globalization ideas. In the 2000s, Castro
forged alliances in the Latin American "pink tide" — namely
with Hugo Chávez's Venezuela — and signed
Cuba up to the
Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas. In 2006, Castro transferred his
responsibilities to Vice President Raúl Castro, who was elected to
the presidency by the National Assembly in 2008.
The longest-serving non-royal head of state in the 20th and 21st
centuries, Castro polarized world opinion. His supporters view him as
a champion of socialism and anti-imperialism whose revolutionary
regime advanced economic and social justice while securing Cuba's
independence from American imperialism. Critics view him as a dictator
whose administration oversaw human-rights abuses, the exodus of a
large number of
Cubans and the impoverishment of the country's
economy. Castro was decorated with various international awards and
significantly influenced various individuals and groups across the
1.1 Youth: 1926–1947
1.2 Rebellion and Marxism: 1947–1950
1.3 Career in law and politics: 1950–1952
2 Cuban Revolution
2.1 The Movement and the
Moncada Barracks attack: 1952–1953
2.2 Imprisonment and July 26 Movement: 1953–1955
2.3 Guerrilla war: 1956–1959
2.4 Provisional government: 1959
3.1 Consolidating leadership: 1959–1960
Bay of Pigs Invasion
Bay of Pigs Invasion and "Socialist Cuba": 1961–1962
Cuban Missile Crisis
Cuban Missile Crisis and furthering socialism: 1962–1968
3.4 Economic stagnation and
Third World politics: 1969–1974
4.1 Foreign wars and NAM Presidency: 1975–1979
4.2 Reagan and Gorbachev: 1980–1989
Special Period: 1990–2000
4.4 Pink tide: 2000–2006
5 Final years
5.1 Stepping down: 2006–2008
5.2 Retirement and final years : 2008–2016
6 Political ideology
7 Personal and public life
7.1 Public image
7.2 Family and friends
8 Reception and legacy
8.1 In Cuba
9.4 Further reading
10 External links
Main article: Early life of
Castro was born out of wedlock at his father's farm on August 13,
1926. His father, Ángel Castro y Argiz, was a migrant to
Galicia, Northwest Spain. He had become financially successful by
growing sugar cane at Las Manacas farm in Birán, Oriente Province
and after the collapse of his first marriage he took his household
servant, Lina Ruz González — of Canarian origin — as
his mistress and later second wife; together they had seven children,
among them Fidel. Aged six, Castro was sent to live with his
teacher in Santiago de Cuba, before being baptized into the Roman
Catholic Church at the age of eight. Being baptized enabled Castro
to attend the La Salle boarding school in Santiago, where he regularly
misbehaved, so he was sent to the privately funded, Jesuit-run Dolores
School in Santiago. In 1945, Castro transferred to the more
prestigious Jesuit-run El Colegio de Belén in Havana. Although
Castro took an interest in history, geography and debating at Belén,
he did not excel academically, instead devoting much of his time to
In 1945, Castro began studying law at the University of Havana.
Admitting he was "politically illiterate", Castro became embroiled in
student activism and the violent gangsterismo culture within the
university. Passionate about anti-imperialism and opposing U.S.
intervention in the Caribbean, he unsuccessfully campaigned for
the presidency of the Federation of University Students on a platform
of "honesty, decency and justice". Castro became critical of the
corruption and violence of President Ramón Grau's government,
delivering a public speech on the subject in November 1946 that
received coverage on the front page of several newspapers.
In 1947, Castro joined the Party of the Cuban People (Partido
Ortodoxo), founded by veteran politician Eduardo Chibás. A
charismatic figure, Chibás advocated social justice, honest
government and political freedom, while his party exposed corruption
and demanded reform. Though Chibás came third in the 1948 general
election, Castro remained committed to working on his behalf.
Student violence escalated after Grau employed gang leaders as police
officers and Castro soon received a death threat urging him to leave
the university, but refusing and beginning to carry a gun and
surrounding himself with armed friends. In later years,
anti-Castro dissidents accused him of committing gang-related
assassinations at the time, but these remain unproven.
Rebellion and Marxism: 1947–1950
I joined the people; I grabbed a rifle in a police station that
collapsed when it was rushed by a crowd. I witnessed the spectacle of
a totally spontaneous revolution ... [T]hat experience led me to
identify myself even more with the cause of the people. My still
incipient Marxist ideas had nothing to do with our conduct — it
was a spontaneous reaction on our part, as young people with
Martí-an, anti-imperialist, anti-colonialist and pro-democratic
Fidel Castro on the Bogotazo, 2009
In June 1947, Castro learned of a planned expedition to overthrow the
right-wing government of Rafael Trujillo, a U.S. ally, in the
Dominican Republic. Being President of the University Committee
for Democracy in the Dominican Republic, Castro joined the
expedition. The military force consisted of around 1,200 troops,
Cubans and exiled Dominicans, and they intended to sail from
Cuba in July 1947. Grau's government stopped the invasion under U.S.
pressure, although Castro and many of his comrades evaded arrest.
Returning to Havana, Castro took a leading role in student protests
against the killing of a high school pupil by government
bodyguards. The protests, accompanied by a crackdown on those
considered communists, led to violent clashes between activists and
police in February 1948, in which Castro was badly beaten. At this
point, his public speeches took on a distinctly leftist slant by
condemning social and economic inequality in Cuba. In contrast, his
former public criticisms had centered on condemning corruption and
In April 1948, Castro traveled to Bogotá, Colombia, with a Cuban
student group sponsored by President Juan Perón's Argentine
government. There, the assassination of popular leftist leader Jorge
Eliécer Gaitán Ayala led to widespread rioting and clashes between
the governing Conservatives — backed by the army — and
leftist Liberals. Castro joined the Liberal cause by stealing guns
from a police station, but subsequent police investigations concluded
that he had not been involved in any killings. Returning to Cuba,
Castro became a prominent figure in protests against government
attempts to raise bus fares. That year, he married Mirta Díaz
Balart, a student from a wealthy family through whom he was exposed to
the lifestyle of the Cuban elite. The relationship was a love match,
disapproved of by both families, but Díaz Balart's father gave them
tens of thousands of dollars to spend on a three-month New York City
Marxism taught me what society was. I was like a blindfolded man in a
forest, who doesn't even know where north or south is. If you don't
eventually come to truly understand the history of the class struggle,
or at least have a clear idea that society is divided between the rich
and the poor, and that some people subjugate and exploit other people,
you're lost in a forest, not knowing anything.
Fidel Castro on discovering Marxism, 2009
That same year, Grau decided not to stand for re-election, which was
instead won by his Partido Auténtico's new candidate, Carlos Prío
Socarrás. Prío faced widespread protests when members of the
MSR, now allied to the police force, assassinated Justo Fuentes, a
socialist friend of Castro's. In response, Prío agreed to quell the
gangs, but found them too powerful to control. Castro had moved
further to the left, influenced by the Marxist writings of Karl Marx,
Friedrich Engels, and Vladimir Lenin. He came to interpret Cuba's
problems as an integral part of capitalist society, or the
"dictatorship of the bourgeoisie", rather than the failings of corrupt
politicians, and adopted the Marxist view that meaningful political
change could only be brought about by proletariat revolution. Visiting
Havana's poorest neighborhoods, he became active in the student
In September 1949, Mirta gave birth to a son, Fidelito, so the couple
moved to a larger
Havana flat. Castro continued to put himself at
risk, staying active in the city’s politics and joining the
September 30 Movement, which contained within it both communists and
members of the Partido Ortodoxo. The group’s purpose was to oppose
the influence of the violent gangs within the university; despite his
promises, Prío had failed to control the situation, instead offering
many of their senior members jobs in government ministries. Castro
volunteered to deliver a speech for the Movement on November 13,
exposing the government’s secret deals with the gangs and
identifying key members. Attracting the attention of the national
press, the speech angered the gangs and Castro fled into hiding, first
in the countryside and then in the U.S. Returning to Havana
several weeks later, Castro lay low and focused on his university
studies, graduating as a Doctor of Law in September 1950.
Career in law and politics: 1950–1952
Castro intended to overthrow the presidency of General Fulgencio
Batista (left, with U.S. Army Chief of staff Malin Craig, in 1938).
Castro co-founded a legal partnership that primarily catered for poor
Cubans, although it proved a financial failure. Caring little for
money or material goods, Castro failed to pay his bills; his furniture
was repossessed and electricity cut off, distressing his wife. He
took part in a high-school protest in
Cienfuegos in November 1950,
fighting with police in protest at the Education Ministry's ban on
student associations; arrested and charged for violent conduct, the
magistrate dismissed the charges. His hopes for
centered on Chibás and the Partido Ortodoxo, and he was present at
Chibás' politically motivated suicide in 1951. Seeing himself as
Chibás' heir, Castro wanted to run for Congress in the June 1952
elections, though senior Ortodoxo members feared his radical
reputation and refused to nominate him. Instead he was nominated
as a candidate for the House of Representatives by party members in
Havana's poorest districts, and began campaigning. The Ortodoxo
had considerable support and was predicted to do well in the
During his campaign, Castro met with General Fulgencio Batista, the
former president who had returned to politics with the Unitary Action
Party; although both opposing Prío's administration, their meeting
never got beyond polite generalities. On March 10, 1952, Batista
seized power in a military coup, with Prío fleeing to Mexico.
Declaring himself president, Batista cancelled the planned
presidential elections, describing his new system as "disciplined
democracy": Castro, like many others, considered it a one-man
dictatorship. Batista moved to the right, solidifying ties with
both the wealthy elite and the United States, severing diplomatic
relations with the Soviet Union, suppressing trade unions and
persecuting Cuban socialist groups. Intent on opposing Batista,
Castro brought several legal cases against the government, but these
came to nothing, and Castro began thinking of alternate ways to oust
Fidel Castro in the Cuban Revolution
The Movement and the
Moncada Barracks attack: 1952–1953
In a few hours you will be victorious or defeated, but regardless of
the outcome – listen well, friends – this Movement will triumph.
If you win tomorrow, the aspirations of Martí will be fulfilled
sooner. If we fail, our action will nevertheless set an example for
the Cuban people, and from the people will arise fresh new men willing
to die for Cuba. They will pick up our banner and move forward... The
people will back us in Oriente and in the whole island. As in '68 and
'92, here in Oriente we will give the first cry of Liberty or Death!
Fidel Castro's speech to the Movement just before the Moncada
Castro formed a group called "The Movement" which operated along a
clandestine cell system, publishing underground newspaper El Acusador
(The Accuser), while arming and training anti-Batista recruits.
From July 1952 they went on a recruitment drive, gaining around 1,200
members in a year, the majority from Havana's poorer districts.
Although a revolutionary socialist, Castro avoided an alliance with
the communist PSP, fearing it would frighten away political moderates,
but kept in contact with PSP members like his brother Raúl.
Castro stockpiled weapons for a planned attack on the Moncada
Barracks, a military garrison outside Santiago de Cuba, Oriente.
Castro's militants intended to dress in army uniforms and arrive at
the base on July 25, seizing control and raiding the armory before
reinforcements arrived. Supplied with new weaponry, Castro
intended to spark a revolution among Oriente's impoverished cane
cutters and promote further uprisings. Castro's plan emulated
those of the 19th-century Cuban independence fighters who had raided
Spanish barracks; Castro saw himself as the heir to independence
leader José Martí.
Fidel Castro under arrest after the Moncada attack, 1953
Castro gathered 165 revolutionaries for the mission, ordering his
troops not to cause bloodshed unless they met armed resistance.
The attack took place on July 26, 1953, but ran into trouble; 3 of the
16 cars that had set out from Santiago failed to get there. Reaching
the barracks, the alarm was raised, with most of the rebels pinned
down by machine gun fire. Four were killed before Castro ordered a
retreat. The rebels suffered 6 fatalities and 15 other casualties,
whilst the army suffered 19 dead and 27 wounded. Meanwhile, some
rebels took over a civilian hospital; subsequently stormed by
government soldiers, the rebels were rounded up, tortured and 22 were
executed without trial. Accompanied by 19 comrades, Castro set out
for Gran Piedra in the rugged
Sierra Maestra mountains several miles
to the north, where they could establish a guerrilla base.
Responding to the attack, Batista's government proclaimed martial law,
ordering a violent crackdown on dissent, and imposing strict media
censorship. The government broadcast misinformation about the
event, claiming that the rebels were communists who had killed
hospital patients, although news and photographs of the army's use of
torture and summary executions in Oriente soon spread, causing
widespread public and some governmental disapproval.
Over the following days, the rebels were rounded up; some were
executed and others – including Castro – transported to a prison
north of Santiago. Believing Castro incapable of planning the
attack alone, the government accused Ortodoxo and PSP politicians of
involvement, putting 122 defendants on trial on September 21 at the
Palace of Justice, Santiago. Acting as his own defense counsel,
Castro cited Martí as the intellectual author of the attack and
convinced the 3 judges to overrule the army's decision to keep all
defendants handcuffed in court, proceeding to argue that the charge
with which they were accused – of "organizing an uprising of armed
persons against the Constitutional Powers of the State" – was
incorrect, for they had risen up against Batista, who had seized power
in an unconstitutional manner. The trial embarrassed the army by
revealing that they had tortured suspects, after which they tried
unsuccessfully to prevent Castro from testifying any further, claiming
he was too ill. The trial ended on October 5, with the acquittal
of most defendants; 55 were sentenced to prison terms of between 7
months and 13 years. Castro was sentenced on October 16, during which
he delivered a speech that would be printed under the title of History
Will Absolve Me. Castro was sentenced to 15 years' imprisonment in
the hospital wing of the Model Prison (Presidio Modelo), a relatively
comfortable and modern institution on the Isla de Pinos.
Imprisonment and July 26 Movement: 1953–1955
I would honestly love to revolutionize this country from one end to
the other! I am sure this would bring happiness to the Cuban people. I
would not be stopped by the hatred and ill will of a few thousand
people, including some of my relatives, half the people I know,
two-thirds of my fellow professionals, and four-fifths of my
Fidel Castro, 1954.
Imprisoned with 25 comrades, Castro renamed his group the "26th of
July Movement" (MR-26-7) in memory of the Moncada attack's date, and
formed a school for prisoners. He read widely, enjoying the works
of Marx, Lenin, and Martí but also reading books by Freud, Kant,
Shakespeare, Munthe, Maugham and Dostoyevsky, analyzing them within a
Marxist framework. Corresponding with supporters, he maintained
control over the Movement and organized the publication of History
Will Absolve Me. Initially permitted a relative amount of freedom
within the prison, he was locked up in solitary confinement after
inmates sang anti-Batista songs on a visit by the President in
February 1954. Meanwhile, Castro's wife Mirta gained employment in
the Ministry of the Interior, something he discovered through a radio
announcement. Appalled, he raged that he would rather die "a thousand
times" than "suffer impotently from such an insult". Both Fidel
and Mirta initiated divorce proceedings, with Mirta taking custody of
their son Fidelito; this angered Castro, who did not want his son
growing up in a bourgeois environment.
In 1954, Batista's government held presidential elections, but no
politician stood against him; the election was widely considered
fraudulent. It had allowed some political opposition to be voiced, and
Castro's supporters had agitated for an amnesty for the Moncada
incident's perpetrators. Some politicians suggested an amnesty would
be good publicity, and the Congress and Batista agreed. Backed by the
U.S. and major corporations, Batista believed Castro to be no threat,
and on May 15, 1955, the prisoners were released. Returning to
Havana, Castro gave radio interviews and press conferences; the
government closely monitored him, curtailing his activities. Now
divorced, Castro had sexual affairs with two female supporters, Naty
Revuelta and Maria Laborde, each conceiving him a child. Setting
about strengthening the MR-26-7, he established an 11-person National
Directorate but retained autocratic control, with some dissenters
labeling him a caudillo (dictator); he argued that a successful
revolution could not be run by committee and required a strong
Fidel's brother Raúl (left) and
Che Guevara (right)
In 1955, bombings and violent demonstrations led to a crackdown on
dissent, with Castro and Raúl fleeing the country to evade
arrest. Castro sent a letter to the press, declaring that he was
Cuba because all doors of peaceful struggle have been closed
to me ... As a follower of Martí, I believe the hour has come to
take our rights and not beg for them, to fight instead of pleading for
them." The Castros and several comrades traveled to Mexico,
where Raúl befriended an Argentine doctor and Marxist–Leninist
named Ernesto "Che" Guevara, who was working as a journalist and
photographer for "Agencia Latina de Noticias".
Fidel liked him,
later describing him as "a more advanced revolutionary than I
was". Castro also associated with the Spaniard Alberto Bayo, who
agreed to teach Castro's rebels the necessary skills in guerrilla
warfare. Requiring funding, Castro toured the U.S. in search of
wealthy sympathizers, there being monitored by Batista's agents, who
allegedly orchestrated a failed assassination attempt against him.
Castro kept in contact with the MR-26-7 in Cuba, where they had gained
a large support base in Oriente. Other militant anti-Batista
groups had sprung up, primarily from the student movement; most
notable was the
Directorio Revolucionario Estudiantil (DRE), founded
by José Antonio Echeverría. Antonio met with Castro in Mexico City,
but Castro opposed the student's support for indiscriminate
After purchasing the decrepit yacht Granma, on November 25, 1956,
Castro set sail from Tuxpan, Veracruz, with 81 armed
revolutionaries. The 1,200-mile (1,900 km) crossing to Cuba
was harsh, with food running low and many suffering seasickness. At
some points, they had to bail water caused by a leak, and at another,
a man fell overboard, delaying their journey. The plan had been
for the crossing to take 5 days, and on the Granma's scheduled day of
arrival, November 30, MR-26-7 members under
Frank País led an armed
uprising in Santiago and Manzanillo. However, the Granma's journey
ultimately lasted 7 days, and with Castro and his men unable to
provide reinforcements, País and his militants dispersed after two
days of intermittent attacks.
Guerrilla war: 1956–1959
The thickly forested mountain range of the Sierra Maestra, from where
Castro and his revolutionaries led guerrilla attacks against Batista's
forces for two years. Castro biographer
Robert E. Quirk noted that
there was "no better place to hide" in all the island.
The Granma ran aground in a mangrove swamp at Playa Las Coloradas,
close to Los Cayuelos, on December 2, 1956. Fleeing inland, its crew
headed for the forested mountain range of Oriente's Sierra Maestra,
being repeatedly attacked by Batista's troops. Upon arrival,
Castro discovered that only 19 rebels had made it to their
destination, the rest having been killed or captured. Setting up
an encampment, the survivors included the Castros, Che Guevara, and
Camilo Cienfuegos. They began launching raids on small army posts
to obtain weaponry, and in January 1957 they overran the outpost at La
Plata, treating any soldiers that they wounded but executing Chicho
Osorio, the local mayoral (land company overseer), who was despised by
the local peasants and who boasted of killing one of Castro's
rebels. Osorio's execution aided the rebels in gaining the trust
of locals, although they largely remained unenthusiastic and
suspicious of the revolutionaries. As trust grew, some locals
joined the rebels, although most new recruits came from urban
areas. With volunteers boosting the rebel forces to over 200, in
July 1957 Castro divided his army into three columns, commanded by
himself, his brother, and Guevara. The MR-26-7 members operating
in urban areas continued agitation, sending supplies to Castro, and on
February 16, 1957, he met with other senior members to discuss
tactics; here he met Celia Sánchez, who would become a close
Across Cuba, anti-Batista groups carried out bombings and sabotage;
police responded with mass arrests, torture, and extrajudicial
executions. In March 1957, the DR launched a failed attack on the
presidential palace, during which Antonio was shot dead. Frank
País was also killed, leaving Castro the MR-26-7's unchallenged
leader. Although Guevara and Raúl were well known for their
Marxist–Leninist views, Castro hid his, hoping to gain the support
of less radical revolutionaries. In 1957 he met with leading
members of the Partido Ortodoxo,
Raúl Chibás and Felipe Pazos,
Sierra Maestra Manifesto, in which they demanded that a
provisional civilian government be set up to implement moderate
agrarian reform, industrialization, and a literacy campaign before
holding multiparty elections. As Cuba's press was censored,
Castro contacted foreign media to spread his message; he became a
celebrity after being interviewed by Herbert Matthews, a journalist
from The New York Times. Reporters from
Paris Match soon
Castro (right) with fellow revolutionary Camilo
Havana on January 8, 1959
Castro's guerrillas increased their attacks on military outposts,
forcing the government to withdraw from the
Sierra Maestra region, and
by spring 1958, the rebels controlled a hospital, schools, a printing
press, slaughterhouse, land-mine factory and a cigar-making
factory. By 1958, Batista was under increasing pressure, a result
of his military failures coupled with increasing domestic and foreign
criticism surrounding his administration's press censorship, torture,
and extrajudicial executions. Influenced by anti-Batista
sentiment among their citizens, the U.S. government ceased supplying
him with weaponry. The opposition called a general strike,
accompanied by armed attacks from the MR-26-7. Beginning on April 9,
it received strong support in central and eastern Cuba, but little
Batista responded with an all-out-attack, Operation Verano, in which
the army aerially bombarded forested areas and villages suspected of
aiding the militants, while 10,000 soldiers commanded by General
Eulogio Cantillo surrounded the Sierra Maestra, driving north to the
rebel encampments. Despite their numerical and technological
superiority, the army had no experience with guerrilla warfare, and
Castro halted their offensive using land mines and ambushes. Many
of Batista's soldiers defected to Castro's rebels, who also benefited
from local popular support. In the summer, the MR-26-7 went on
the offensive, pushing the army out of the mountains, with Castro
using his columns in a pincer movement to surround the main army
concentration in Santiago. By November, Castro's forces controlled
most of Oriente and Las Villas, and divided
Cuba in two by closing
major roads and rail lines, severely disadvantaging Batista.
Fearing Castro was a socialist, the U.S. instructed Cantillo to oust
Batista. Cantillo secretly agreed to a ceasefire with Castro,
promising that Batista would be tried as a war criminal; however,
Batista was warned, and fled into exile with over US$300,000,000 on
December 31, 1958. Cantillo entered Havana's Presidential Palace,
proclaimed the Supreme Court judge
Carlos Piedra to be President, and
began appointing the new government. Furious, Castro ended the
ceasefire, and ordered Cantillo's arrest by sympathetic figures
in the army. Accompanying celebrations at news of Batista's
downfall on January 1, 1959, Castro ordered the MR-26-7 to prevent
widespread looting and vandalism.
Cienfuegos and Guevara led
their columns into
Havana on January 2, while Castro entered Santiago
and gave a speech invoking the wars of independence. Heading
toward Havana, he greeted cheering crowds at every town, giving press
conferences and interviews.
Provisional government: 1959
At Castro's command, the politically moderate lawyer Manuel Urrutia
Lleó was proclaimed provisional president but Castro announced
(falsely) that Urrutia had been selected by "popular election". Most
of Urrutia's cabinet were MR-26-7 members. Entering Havana,
Castro proclaimed himself Representative of the Rebel Armed Forces of
the Presidency, setting up home and office in the penthouse of the
Havana Hilton Hotel. Castro exercised a great deal of influence
over Urrutia's regime, which was now ruling by decree. He ensured that
the government implemented policies to cut corruption and fight
illiteracy and that it attempted to remove Batistanos from positions
of power by dismissing Congress and barring all those elected in the
rigged elections of 1954 and 1958 from future office. He then pushed
Urrutia to issue a temporary ban on political parties; he repeatedly
said that they would eventually hold multiparty elections.
Although repeatedly denying that he was a communist to the press, he
began clandestinely meeting members of the Popular Socialist Party to
discuss the creation of a socialist state.
We are not executing innocent people or political opponents. We are
executing murderers and they deserve it.
— Castro's response to his critics regarding the mass executions,
In suppressing the revolution, Batista's government had killed
thousands of Cubans; Castro and influential sectors of the press put
the death toll at 20,000, but a list of victims published shortly
after the revolution contained only 898 names—over half of them
combatants. More recent estimates place the death toll between
1000 and 4000. In response to popular uproar, which demanded
that those responsible be brought to justice, Castro helped set up
many trials, resulting in hundreds of executions. Although widely
popular domestically, critics–in particular the U.S. press–argued
that many were not fair trials. Castro responded that "revolutionary
justice is not based on legal precepts, but on moral conviction".
Acclaimed by many across Latin America, he traveled to Venezuela where
he met with President-elect Rómulo Betancourt, unsuccessfully
requesting a loan and a new deal for Venezuelan oil. Returning
home, an argument between Castro and senior government figures broke
out. He was infuriated that the government had left thousands
unemployed by closing down casinos and brothels. As a result, Prime
José Miró Cardona
José Miró Cardona resigned, going into exile in the U.S.
and joining the anti-Castro movement.
Fidel Castro § Premiership
Consolidating leadership: 1959–1960
Castro viewing the
Lincoln Memorial during his visit to the United
On February 16, 1959, Castro was sworn in as Prime Minister of
Cuba. In April he visited the U.S. on a charm offensive where he
met Vice President Richard Nixon, whom he instantly disliked.
Proceeding to Canada, Trinidad, Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina,
Castro attended an economic conference in Buenos Aires, unsuccessfully
proposing a $30 billion U.S.-funded "Marshall Plan" for Latin
America. In May 1959, Castro signed into law the First Agrarian
Reform, setting a cap for landholdings to 993 acres (402 ha) per
owner and prohibiting foreigners from obtaining Cuban land ownership.
Around 200,000 peasants received title deeds as large land holdings
were broken up; popular among the working class, it alienated the
richer landowners. Castro appointed himself president of the
National Tourist Industry, introducing unsuccessful measures to
encourage African-American tourists to visit, advertising
Cuba as a
tropical paradise free of racial discrimination. Judges and
politicians had their pay reduced while low-level civil servants saw
theirs raised, and in March 1959, Castro declared rents for those
who paid less than $100 a month halved. The Cuban government also
began expropriate from mafia leaders and taking millions in cash.
Before he died
Meyer Lansky said
Cuba "ruined" him.
Although refusing to categorize his regime as socialist and repeatedly
denying being a communist, Castro appointed Marxists to senior
government and military positions. Most notably,
Che Guevara became
Governor of the Central Bank and then Minister of Industries.
Appalled, Air Force commander
Pedro Luis Díaz Lanz defected to the
U.S. Although President Urrutia denounced the defection, he
expressed concern with the rising influence of Marxism. Angered,
Castro in turn announced his resignation as prime minister, blaming
Urrutia for complicating government with his "fevered anti-Communism".
Over 500,000 Castro-supporters surrounded the Presidential Palace
demanding Urrutia's resignation, which he submitted. On July 23,
Castro resumed his Premiership and appointed Marxist Osvaldo Dorticós
Castro and Indonesian President
Sukarno in Havana, 1960
Castro's government emphasised social projects to improve Cuba's
standard of living, often to the detriment of economic
development. Major emphasis was placed on education, and during
the first 30 months of Castro's government, more classrooms were
opened than in the previous 30 years. The Cuban primary education
system offered a work-study program, with half of the time spent in
the classroom, and the other half in a productive activity.
Health care was nationalized and expanded, with rural health centers
and urban polyclinics opening up across the island to offer free
medical aid. Universal vaccination against childhood diseases was
implemented, and infant mortality rates were reduced
dramatically. A third part of this social program was the
improvement of infrastructure. Within the first six months of Castro's
government, 600 miles of roads were built across the island, while
$300 million was spent on water and sanitation projects. Over 800
houses were constructed every month in the early years of the
administration in an effort to cut homelessness, while nurseries and
day-care centers were opened for children and other centers opened for
the disabled and elderly.
Castro (far left),
Che Guevara (center), and other leading
revolutionaries, marching through the streets in protest at the La
Coubre explosion, March 5, 1960
Castro used radio and television to develop a "dialogue with the
people", posing questions and making provocative statements. His
regime remained popular with workers, peasants, and students, who
constituted the majority of the country's population, while
opposition came primarily from the middle class; thousands of doctors,
engineers and other professionals emigrated to Florida in the U.S.,
causing an economic brain drain. Productivity decreased and the
country's financial reserves were drained within two years. After
conservative press expressed hostility towards the government, the
pro-Castro printers' trade union disrupted editorial staff, and in
January 1960 the government ordered them to publish a "clarification"
written by the printers' union at the end of articles critical of the
government. Castro's government arrested hundreds of
counter-revolutionaries, many of whom were subjected to solitary
confinement, rough treatment, and threatening behavior. Militant
anti-Castro groups, funded by exiles, the Central Intelligence Agency
(CIA), and the Dominican government, undertook armed attacks and set
up guerrilla bases in Cuba's mountains, leading to the six-year
By 1960, the
Cold War raged between two superpowers: the United
States, a capitalist liberal democracy, and the
Soviet Union (USSR), a
Marxist–Leninist socialist state ruled by the Communist Party.
Expressing contempt for the U.S., Castro shared the ideological views
of the USSR, establishing relations with several Marxist–Leninist
states. Meeting with Soviet First Deputy Premier Anastas Mikoyan,
Castro agreed to provide the USSR with sugar, fruit, fibers, and
hides, in return for crude oil, fertilizers, industrial goods, and a
$100 million loan. Cuba's government ordered the country's
refineries – then controlled by the U.S. corporations Shell and Esso
– to process Soviet oil, but under U.S. pressure, they refused.
Castro responded by expropriating and nationalizing the refineries.
Retaliating, the U.S. cancelled its import of Cuban sugar, provoking
Castro to nationalize most U.S.-owned assets on the island, including
banks and sugar mills.
Castro at the
United Nations General Assembly
United Nations General Assembly in 1960
Cuba and the U.S. were further strained following
the explosion of a French vessel, the La Coubre, in
Havana harbor in
March 1960. The ship carried weapons purchased from Belgium, the cause
of the explosion was never determined, but Castro publicly insinuated
that the U.S. government were guilty of sabotage. He ended this speech
with "¡Patria o Muerte!" ("Fatherland or Death"), a proclamation that
he made much use of in ensuing years. Inspired by their earlier
success with the 1954 Guatemalan coup d'état, in March 1960, U.S.
President Eisenhower authorized the CIA to overthrow Castro's
government. He provided them with a budget of $13 million and
permitted them to ally with the Mafia, who were aggrieved that
Castro's government closed down their brothel and casino businesses in
Cuba. On October 13, 1960, the U.S. prohibited the majority of
exports to Cuba, initiating an economic embargo. In retaliation, the
National Institute for Agrarian Reform INRA took control of 383
private-run businesses on October 14, and on October 25 a further 166
U.S. companies operating in
Cuba had their premises seized and
nationalized. On December 16, the U.S. ended its import quota of
Cuban sugar, the country's primary export.
In September 1960, Castro flew to New York City for the General
Assembly of the United Nations. Staying at the
Hotel Theresa in
Harlem, he met with journalists and anti-establishment figures like
Malcolm X. He also met Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, with the two
publicly condemning the poverty and racism faced by Americans in areas
like Harlem. Relations between Castro and Khrushchev were warm; they
led the applause to one another's speeches at the General
Assembly. Subsequently, visited by Polish First Secretary
Władysław Gomułka, Bulgarian Chairman Todor Zhivkov, Egyptian
Gamal Abdel Nasser
Gamal Abdel Nasser and Indian Premier Jawaharlal Nehru,
Castro also received an evening's reception from the Fair Play for
Back in Cuba, Castro feared a U.S.-backed coup; in 1959 his regime
spent $120 million on Soviet, French, and Belgian weaponry and by
early 1960 had doubled the size of Cuba's armed forces. Fearing
counter-revolutionary elements in the army, the government created a
People's Militia to arm citizens favorable to the revolution, training
at least 50,000 civilians in combat techniques. In September
1960, they created the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution
(CDR), a nationwide civilian organization which implemented
neighborhood spying to detect counter-revolutionary activities as well
as organizing health and education campaigns, becoming a conduit for
public complaints. By 1970, a third of the population would be
involved in the CDR, and this would come to rise to 80%.
Castro proclaimed the new administration a direct democracy, in which
Cubans could assemble at demonstrations to express their democratic
will. As a result, he rejected the need for elections, claiming that
representative democratic systems served the interests of
socio-economic elites. U.S. Secretary of State Christian Herter
Cuba was adopting the Soviet model of rule, with a
one-party state, government control of trade unions, suppression of
civil liberties, and the absence of freedom of speech and press.
Bay of Pigs Invasion
Bay of Pigs Invasion and "Socialist Cuba": 1961–1962
There was ... no doubt about who the victors were. Cuba's stature in
the world soared to new heights, and Fidel's role as the adored and
revered leader among ordinary Cuban people received a renewed boost.
His popularity was greater than ever. In his own mind he had done what
Cubans had only fantasized about: he had taken on the
United States and won.
— Peter Bourne, Castro biographer, 1986
In January 1961, Castro ordered Havana's U.S. Embassy to reduce its
300-member staff, suspecting that many of them were spies. The U.S.
responded by ending diplomatic relations, and it increased CIA funding
for exiled dissidents; these militants began attacking ships that
traded with Cuba, and bombed factories, shops, and sugar mills.
Both Eisenhower and his successor
John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy supported a CIA plan
to aid a dissident militia, the Democratic
Revolutionary Front, to
Cuba and overthrow Castro; the plan resulted in the Bay of Pigs
Invasion in April 1961. On April 15, CIA-supplied B-26's bombed 3
Cuban military airfields; the U.S. announced that the perpetrators
were defecting Cuban air force pilots, but Castro exposed these claims
as false flag misinformation. Fearing invasion, he ordered the
arrest of between 20,000 and 100,000 suspected
counter-revolutionaries, publicly proclaiming, "What the
imperialists cannot forgive us, is that we have made a Socialist
revolution under their noses", his first announcement that the
government was socialist.
Che Guevara (left) and Castro, photographed by
Alberto Korda in 1961
The CIA and the Democratic
Revolutionary Front had based a
1,400-strong army, Brigade 2506, in Nicaragua. On the night of April
16 to 17, Brigade 2506 landed along Cuba's Bay of Pigs, and engaged in
a firefight with a local revolutionary militia. Castro ordered Captain
José Ramón Fernández to launch the counter-offensive, before taking
personal control of it. After bombing the invaders' ships and bringing
in reinforcements, Castro forced the Brigade to surrender on April
20. He ordered the 1189 captured rebels to be interrogated by a
panel of journalists on live television, personally taking over the
questioning on April 25. 14 were put on trial for crimes allegedly
committed before the revolution, while the others were returned to the
U.S. in exchange for medicine and food valued at U.S. $25
million. Castro's victory was a powerful symbol across Latin
America, but it also increased internal opposition primarily among the
Cubans who had been detained in the run-up to the
invasion. Although most were freed within a few days, many fled to the
U.S., establishing themselves in Florida.
Consolidating "Socialist Cuba", Castro united the MR-26-7, Popular
Socialist Party and
Revolutionary Directorate into a governing party
based on the Leninist principle of democratic centralism: the
Revolutionary Organizations (Organizaciones Revolucionarias
Integradas – ORI), renamed the United Party of the Cuban Socialist
Revolution (PURSC) in 1962. Although the USSR was hesitant
regarding Castro's embrace of socialism, relations with the
Soviets deepened. Castro sent Fidelito for a Moscow schooling,
Soviet technicians arrived on the island, and Castro was awarded
the Lenin Peace Prize. In December 1961, Castro admitted that he
had been a Marxist–Leninist for years, and in his Second Declaration
Havana he called on Latin America to rise up in revolution. In
response, the U.S. successfully pushed the Organization of American
States to expel Cuba; the Soviets privately reprimanded Castro for
recklessness, although he received praise from China. Despite
their ideological affinity with China, in the Sino-Soviet split, Cuba
allied with the wealthier Soviets, who offered economic and military
The ORI began shaping
Cuba using the Soviet model, persecuting
political opponents and perceived social deviants such as prostitutes
and homosexuals; Castro considered same-sex sexual activity a
bourgeois trait. Gay men were forced into the Military Units to
Aid Production (Unidades Militares de Ayuda a la Producción –
UMAP); after many revolutionary intellectuals decried this move, the
UMAP camps were closed in 1967, although gay men continued to be
imprisoned. In 2010, Castro took responsibility for this
persecution, regretting it as a "great injustice". By 1962,
Cuba's economy was in steep decline, a result of poor economic
management and low productivity coupled with the U.S. trade embargo.
Food shortages led to rationing, resulting in protests in
Cárdenas. Security reports indicated that many
austerity with the "Old Communists" of the PSP, while Castro
considered a number of them – namely Aníbal Escalante and Blas
Roca – unduly loyal to Moscow. In March 1962 Castro removed the
most prominent "Old Communists" from office, labelling them
"sectarian". On a personal level, Castro was increasingly lonely,
and his relations with Guevara became strained as the latter became
increasingly anti-Soviet and pro-Chinese.
Cuban Missile Crisis
Cuban Missile Crisis and furthering socialism: 1962–1968
U-2 reconnaissance photograph of Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba
Militarily weaker than NATO, Khrushchev wanted to install Soviet R-12
MRBM nuclear missiles on
Cuba to even the power balance. Although
conflicted, Castro agreed, believing it would guarantee Cuba's safety
and enhance the cause of socialism. Undertaken in secrecy, only
the Castro brothers, Guevara, Dorticós and security chief Ramiro
Valdés knew the full plan. Upon discovering it through aerial
reconnaissance, in October the U.S. implemented an island-wide
quarantine to search vessels headed to Cuba, sparking the Cuban
Missile Crisis. The U.S. saw the missiles as offensive; Castro
insisted they were for defense only. Castro urged Khrushchev to
threaten a nuclear strike on the U.S. should
Cuba be attacked, but
Khrushchev was desperate to avoid nuclear war. Castro was left
out of the negotiations, in which Khruschev agreed to remove the
missiles in exchange for a U.S. commitment not to invade
Cuba and an
understanding that the U.S. would remove their MRBMs from Turkey and
Italy. Feeling betrayed by Khruschev, Castro was furious and soon
fell ill. Proposing a five-point plan, Castro demanded that the
U.S. end its embargo, withdraw from Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, cease
supporting dissidents, and stop violating Cuban air space and
territorial waters. Presenting these demands to U Thant, visiting
Secretary-General of the United Nations, the U.S. ignored them, and in
turn Castro refused to allow the U.N.'s inspection team into
In May 1963, Castro visited the USSR at Khrushchev's personal
invitation, touring 14 cities, addressing a
Red Square rally, and
being awarded both the
Order of Lenin
Order of Lenin and an honorary doctorate from
Moscow State University. Castro returned to
Cuba with new ideas;
inspired by Soviet newspaper Pravda, he amalgamated Hoy and
Revolución into a new daily, Granma, and oversaw large
investment into Cuban sport that resulted in an increased
international sporting reputation. Seeking to further consolidate
control, in 1963 the government cracked down on Protestant sects in
Cuba, with Castro labeling them counter-revolutionary "instruments of
imperialism"; many preachers were found guilty of illegal U.S.-links
and imprisoned. Measures were implemented to force perceived idle
and delinquent youths to work, primarily through the introduction of
mandatory military service, while in September the government
temporarily permitted emigration for anyone other than males aged
between 15 and 26, thereby ridding the government of thousands of
critics, most of whom were from upper and middle-class
backgrounds. In 1963 Castro's mother died. This was the last time
his private life was reported in Cuba's press. In January 1964,
Castro returned to Moscow, officially to sign a new five-year sugar
trade agreement, but also to discuss the ramifications of the
assassination of John F. Kennedy; Castro had been deeply
concerned by the assassination, believing that a far right conspiracy
was behind it but that the
Cubans would be blamed. In October
1965, the Integrated
Revolutionary Organizations was officially
renamed the "Cuban Communist Party" and published the membership of
its Central Committee.
The greatest threat presented by Castro's
Cuba is as an example to
other Latin American states which are beset by poverty, corruption,
feudalism, and plutocratic exploitation ... his influence in Latin
America might be overwhelming and irresistible if, with Soviet help,
he could establish in
Cuba a Communist utopia.
— Walter Lippmann, Newsweek, April 27, 1964
Despite Soviet misgivings, Castro continued calling for global
revolution, funding militant leftists and those engaged in national
liberation struggles. Cuba's foreign policy was staunchly
anti-imperialist, believing that every nation should control its own
natural resources. He supported Che Guevara's "Andean project",
an unsuccessful plan to set up a guerrilla movement in the highlands
Peru and Argentina, and allowed revolutionary groups from
across the world, from the
Viet Cong to the Black Panthers, to train
in Cuba. He considered Western-dominated Africa ripe for
revolution, and sent troops and medics to aid Ahmed Ben Bella's
socialist regime in Algeria during the Sand War. He also allied with
Alphonse Massamba-Débat's socialist government in Congo-Brazzaville,
and in 1965 Castro authorized Guevara to travel to
train revolutionaries against the Western-backed government.
Castro was personally devastated when Guevara was subsequently killed
by CIA-backed troops in
Bolivia in October 1967 and publicly
attributed it to Che's disregard for his own safety. In 1966
Castro staged a Tri-Continental Conference of Africa, Asia and Latin
America in Havana, further establishing himself as a significant
player on the world stage. From this conference, Castro created
the Latin American Solidarity Organization (OLAS), which adopted the
slogan of "The duty of a revolution is to make revolution", signifying
Havana's leadership of Latin America's revolutionary movement.
Castro and Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, the first human in space
Castro's increasing role on the world stage strained his relationship
with the USSR, now under the leadership of Leonid Brezhnev. Asserting
Cuba's independence, Castro refused to sign the Treaty on the
Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, declaring it a Soviet-U.S.
attempt to dominate the Third World. Diverting from Soviet
Marxist doctrine, he suggested that Cuban society could evolve
straight to pure communism rather than gradually progress through
various stages of socialism. In turn, the Soviet-loyalist Aníbal
Escalante began organizing a government network of opposition to
Castro, though in January 1968, he and his supporters were arrested
for allegedly passing state secrets to Moscow. However,
recognising Cuba's economic dependence on the Soviets, Castro relented
to Brezhnev's pressure to be obedient, and in August 1968 he denounced
the leaders of the
Prague Spring and praised the
Warsaw Pact invasion
of Czechoslovakia. Influenced by China's Great Leap Forward,
in 1968 Castro proclaimed a Great
Revolutionary Offensive, closing all
remaining privately owned shops and businesses and denouncing their
owners as capitalist counter-revolutionaries. The severe lack of
consumer goods for purchase led productivity to decline, as large
sectors of the population felt little incentive to work hard.
This was exacerbated by the perception that a revolutionary elite had
emerged consisting of those connected to the administration; they had
access to better housing, private transportation, servants, and the
ability to purchase luxury goods abroad.
Economic stagnation and
Third World politics: 1969–1974
Castro publicly celebrated his administration's 10th anniversary in
January 1969; in his celebratory speech he warned of sugar rations,
reflecting the nation's economic problems. The 1969 crop was
heavily damaged by a hurricane, and to meet its export quota, the
government drafted in the army, implemented a seven-day working week,
and postponed public holidays to lengthen the harvest. When that
year's production quota was not met, Castro offered to resign during a
public speech, but assembled crowds insisted he remain. Despite
the economic issues, many of Castro's social reforms were popular,
with the population largely supportive of the "Achievements of the
Revolution" in education, medical care, housing, and road
construction, as well as the policies of "direct democratic" public
consultation. Seeking Soviet help, from 1970 to 1972 Soviet
economists re-organized Cuba's economy, founding the Cuban-Soviet
Commission of Economic, Scientific and Technical Collaboration, while
Alexei Kosygin visited[when?] in 1971. In July
Cuba joined the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance
(Comecon), an economic organization of socialist states, although this
further limited Cuba's economy to agricultural production.
Castro and members of the East German
Politburo in Berlin, June 1972
In May 1970, the crews of two Cuban fishing boats were kidnapped by
Florida-based dissident group Alpha 66, who demanded that
imprisoned militants. Under U.S. pressure, the hostages were released,
and Castro welcomed them back as heroes. In April 1971, Castro
was internationally condemned for ordering the arrest of dissident
Heberto Padilla who had been arrested March 20; Padilla was
freed, but the government established the National Cultural Council to
ensure that intellectuals and artists supported the
In November 1971, Castro visited Chile, where Marxist President
Salvador Allende had been elected as the head of a left-wing
coalition. Castro supported Allende's socialist reforms, but warned
him of right-wing elements in Chile's military. In 1973, the military
led a coup d'état and established a military junta led by Augusto
Pinochet. Castro proceeded to Guinea to meet socialist President
Sékou Touré, praising him as Africa's greatest leader, and there
received the Order of Fidelity to the People. He then went on a
seven-week tour visiting leftist allies: Algeria, Bulgaria, Hungary,
Poland, East Germany, Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union, where he
was given further awards. On each trip, he was eager to visit factory
and farm workers, publicly praising their governments; privately, he
urged the regimes to aid revolutionary movements elsewhere,
particularly those fighting the Vietnam War.
In September 1973, he returned to
Algiers to attend the Fourth Summit
Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). Various NAM members were critical
of Castro's attendance, claiming that
Cuba was aligned to the Warsaw
Pact and therefore should not be at the conference. At the
conference he publicly broke off relations with Israel, citing its
government's close relationship with the U.S. and its treatment of
Palestinians during the Israel–Palestine conflict. This earned
Castro respect throughout the Arab world, in particular from the
Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, who became his friend and ally. As
Yom Kippur War
Yom Kippur War broke out in October 1973 between Israel and an
Arab coalition led by Egypt and Syria,
Cuba sent 4,000 troops to aid
Syria. Leaving Algiers, Castro visited Iraq and North
Cuba's economy grew in 1974 as a result of high international sugar
prices and new credits with Argentina, Canada, and parts of Western
Europe. A number of Latin American states called for Cuba's
re-admittance into the
Organization of American States
Organization of American States (OAS), with the
U.S. finally conceding in 1975 on Henry Kissinger's advice.
Cuba's government underwent a restructuring along Soviet lines,
claiming that this would further democratization and decentralize
power away from Castro. Officially announcing Cuba's identity as a
socialist state, the first National Congress of the Cuban Communist
Party was held, and a new constitution adopted that abolished the
position of President and Prime Minister. Castro remained the dominant
figure in governance, taking the presidency of the newly created
Council of State and Council of Ministers, making him both head of
state and head of government.
Fidel Castro § Presidency
Foreign wars and NAM Presidency: 1975–1979
Castro considered Africa to be "the weakest link in the imperialist
chain", and at the request of Angolan President
Agostinho Neto he
ordered 230 military advisers into Southern Africa in November 1975 to
aid Neto's Marxist
MPLA in the Angolan Civil War. When the U.S. and
South Africa stepped up their support of the opposition FLNA and
UNITA, Castro ordered a further 18,000 troops to Angola, which played
a major role in forcing a South African and UNITA retreat.
Traveling to Angola, Castro celebrated with Neto,
Sékou Touré and
Guinea-Bissaun President Luís Cabral, where they agreed to support
Mozambique's Marxist–Leninist government against
RENAMO in the
Mozambique Civil War. In February, Castro visited Algeria and
then Libya, where he spent ten days with Gaddafi and oversaw the
establishment of the Jamahariya system of governance, before attending
talks with the Marxist government of South Yemen. From there he
proceeded to Somalia, Tanzania, Mozambique and
Angola where he was
greeted by crowds as a hero for Cuba's role in opposing apartheid
South Africa. Throughout much of Africa he was hailed as a friend
to national liberation from foreign dominance. This was followed
with visits to Berlin and Moscow.
There is often talk of human rights, but it is also necessary to talk
of the rights of humanity. Why should some people walk barefoot, so
that others can travel in luxurious cars? Why should some live for
thirty-five years, so that others can live for seventy years? Why
should some be miserably poor, so that others can be hugely rich? I
speak on behalf of the children in the world who do not have a piece
of bread. I speak on the behalf of the sick who have no medicine, of
those whose rights to life and human dignity have been denied.
Fidel Castro's message to the UN General Assembly, 1979
In 1977 the
Ogaden War broke out over the disputed
Ogaden region as
Somalia invaded Ethiopia; although a former ally of Somali President
Siad Barre, Castro had warned him against such action, and
with Mengistu Haile Mariam's Marxist government of Ethiopia. He sent
troops under the command of General
Arnaldo Ochoa to aid the
overwhelmed Ethiopian army. After forcing back the Somalis, Mengistu
then ordered the Ethiopians to suppress the Eritrean People's
Liberation Front, a measure Castro refused to support. Castro
extended support to Latin American revolutionary movements, namely the
Sandinista National Liberation Front
Sandinista National Liberation Front in its overthrow of the
Nicaraguan rightist government of
Anastasio Somoza Debayle
Anastasio Somoza Debayle in July
1979. Castro's critics accused the government of wasting Cuban
lives in these military endeavors; the anti-Castro Center for a Free
Cuba has claimed that an estimated 14,000
Cubans were killed in
foreign Cuban military actions. When U.S. state critics claimed
that Castro had no right to interfere in these nations, he countered
Cuba had been invited into them, pointing out the U.S.' own
involvement in various foreign nations.
In 1979, the Conference of the
Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) was held in
Havana, where Castro was selected as NAM president, a position he held
till 1982. In his capacity as both President of the NAM and of
appeared at the
United Nations General Assembly
United Nations General Assembly in October 1979 and
gave a speech on the disparity between the world's rich and poor. His
speech was greeted with much applause from other world leaders,
though his standing in NAM was damaged by Cuba's abstinence from the
U.N.'s General Assembly condemnation of the Soviet war in
Afghanistan. Cuba's relations across North America improved under
Mexican President Luis Echeverría, Canadian Prime Minister Pierre
Trudeau, and U.S. President Jimmy Carter. Carter continued
criticizing Cuba's human rights abuses, but adopted a respectful
approach which gained Castro's attention. Considering Carter
well-meaning and sincere, Castro freed certain political prisoners and
allowed some Cuban exiles to visit relatives on the island, hoping
that in turn Carter would abolish the economic embargo and stop CIA
support for militant dissidents. Conversely, his relationship
with China declined, as he accused Deng Xiaoping's Chinese government
of betraying their revolutionary principles by initiating trade links
with the U.S. and attacking Vietnam.
Reagan and Gorbachev: 1980–1989
Fidel Castro speaking in Havana, 1978
By the 1980s, Cuba's economy was again in trouble, following a decline
in the market price of sugar and 1979's decimated harvest. For
the first time, unemployment became a serious problem in Castro's
Cuba, with the government sending unemployed youth to other countries,
primarily East Germany, to work there. Desperate for money,
Cuba's government secretly sold off paintings from national
collections and illicitly traded for U.S. electronic goods through
Panama. Increasing numbers of
Cubans fled to Florida, but were
labelled "scum" and "lumpen" by Castro and his CDR supporters. In
one incident, 10,000
Cubans stormed the Peruvian Embassy requesting
asylum, and so the U.S. agreed that it would accept 3,500 refugees.
Castro conceded that those who wanted to leave could do so from Mariel
port. Hundreds of boats arrived from the U.S., leading to a mass
exodus of 120,000; Castro's government took advantage of the situation
by loading criminals, the mentally ill, and suspected homosexuals onto
the boats destined for Florida. The event destabilized Carter's
administration and in 1981,
Ronald Reagan was elected U.S. President.
Reagan's administration adopted a hard-line approach against Castro,
making its desire to overthrow his regime clear. In late 1981,
Castro publicly accused the U.S. of biological warfare against
orchestrating a dengue fever epidemic. Cuba's economy became even
more dependent on Soviet aid, with Soviet subsidies (mainly in the
form of supplies of low-cost oil and voluntarily buying Cuban sugar at
inflated prices) averaging $4–5 billion a year by the late
eighties. This accounted for 30-38% of the country's entire
Although despising Argentina's right wing military junta, Castro
supported them in the 1982
Falklands War against Britain and offered
military aid to the Argentinians. Castro supported the leftist
New Jewel Movement that seized power in
Grenada in 1979, befriending
Maurice Bishop and sending doctors, teachers, and
technicians to aid the country's development. When Bishop was executed
in a Soviet-backed coup by hard-line Marxist
Bernard Coard in October
1983, Castro condemned the killing but cautiously retained support for
Grenada's government. However, the U.S. used the coup as a basis for
invading the island. Cuban soldiers died in the conflict, with Castro
denouncing the invasion and comparing the U.S. to Nazi Germany.
In a July 1983 speech marking the 30th anniversary of the Cuban
Revolution, Castro condemned Reagan's administration as a
"reactionary, extremist clique" who were waging an "openly
warmongering and fascist foreign policy". Castro feared a U.S.
Nicaragua and sent Ochoa to train the governing
Sandinistas in guerrilla warfare, but received little support from the
Mikhail Gorbachev became Secretary-General of the Soviet
Communist Party. A reformer, he implemented measures to increase
freedom of the press (glasnost) and economic decentralization
(perestroika) in an attempt to strengthen socialism. Like many
orthodox Marxist critics, Castro feared that the reforms would weaken
the socialist state and allow capitalist elements to regain
control. Gorbachev conceded to U.S. demands to reduce support for
Cuba, with Soviet-Cuban relations deteriorating. When
Cuba in April 1989, he informed Castro that
perestroika meant an end to subsidies for Cuba. Ignoring calls
for liberalization in accordance with the Soviet example, Castro
continued to clamp down on internal dissidents and in particular kept
tabs on the military, the primary threat to the government. A number
of senior military officers, including Ochoa and Tony de la Guardia,
were investigated for corruption and complicity in cocaine smuggling,
tried, and executed in 1989, despite calls for leniency. On
medical advice given him in October 1985, Castro gave up regularly
smoking Cuban cigars, helping to set an example for the rest of the
populace. Castro became passionate in his denunciation of the
Third World debt problem, arguing that the
Third World would never
escape the debt that First World banks and governments imposed upon
it. In 1985,
Havana hosted five international conferences on the world
Castro's image painted onto a now-destroyed lighthouse in Lobito,
By November 1987, Castro began spending more time on the Angolan Civil
War, in which the Marxists had fallen into retreat. Angolan President
José Eduardo dos Santos
José Eduardo dos Santos successfully appealed for more Cuban troops,
with Castro later admitting that he devoted more time to
to the domestic situation, believing that a victory would lead to the
collapse of apartheid. Gorbachev called for a negotiated end to the
conflict and in 1988 organized a quadripartite talks between the USSR,
Cuba and South Africa; they agreed that all foreign troops would
pull out of Angola. Castro was angered by Gorbachev's approach,
believing that he was abandoning the plight of the world's poor in
favor of détente.
In Eastern Europe, socialist governments fell to capitalist reformers
between 1989 and 1991 and many Western observers expected the same in
Cuba. Increasingly isolated,
Cuba improved relations with Manuel
Noriega's right-wing government in Panama – despite Castro's
personal hatred of Noriega – but it was overthrown in a U.S.
invasion in December 1989. In February 1990, Castro's allies in
Daniel Ortega and the Sandinistas, were defeated
by the U.S.-funded
National Opposition Union
National Opposition Union in an election. With
the collapse of the Soviet bloc, the U.S. secured a majority vote for
a resolution condemning Cuba's human rights violations at the United
Nations Human Rights Commission in Geneva, Switzerland.
that this was a manifestation of U.S. hegemony, and refused to allow
an investigative delegation to enter the country.
Special Period: 1990–2000
Castro in front of a
Havana statue of Cuban national hero José Martí
With favourable trade from the Soviet bloc ended, Castro publicly
Cuba was entering a "
Special Period in Time of Peace".
Petrol rations were dramatically reduced, Chinese bicycles were
imported to replace cars, and factories performing non-essential tasks
were shut down. Oxen began to replace tractors, firewood began being
used for cooking and electricity cuts were introduced that lasted 16
hours a day. Castro admitted that
Cuba faced the worst situation short
of open war, and that the country might have to resort to subsistence
farming. By 1992, Cuba's economy had declined by over 40% in
under two years, with major food shortages, widespread malnutrition
and a lack of basic goods. Castro hoped for a restoration of
Marxism–Leninism in the USSR, but refrained from backing the 1991
coup in that country. When Gorbachev regained control,
Cuba-Soviet relations deteriorated further and Soviet troops were
withdrawn in September 1991. In December, the
Soviet Union was
officially dissolved as
Boris Yeltsin abolished the Communist Party of
Soviet Union and introducing a capitalist multiparty democracy.
Yeltsin despised Castro and developed links with the Miami-based Cuban
American National Foundation. Castro tried improving relations
with the capitalist nations. He welcomed Western politicians and
investors to Cuba, befriended
Manuel Fraga and took a particular
interest in Margaret Thatcher's policies in the UK, believing that
Cuban socialism could learn from her emphasis on low taxation and
personal initiative. He ceased support for foreign militants,
refrained from praising
FARC on a 1994 visit to
Colombia and called
for a negotiated settlement between the Zapatistas and Mexican
government in 1995. Publicly, he presented himself as a moderate on
the world stage.
Havana hosted the Pan American Games, which involved
construction of a stadium and accommodation for the athletes; Castro
admitted that it was an expensive error, but it was a success for
Cuba's government. Crowds regularly shouted "Fidel! Fidel!" in front
of foreign journalists, while
Cuba became the first Latin American
nation to beat the U.S. to the top of the gold-medal table.
Support for Castro remained strong, and although there were small
anti-government demonstrations, the Cuban opposition rejected the
exile community's calls for an armed uprising. In August 1994,
Havana witnessed the largest anti-Castro demonstration in Cuban
history, as 200 to 300 young men threw stones at police, demanding
that they be allowed to emigrate to Miami. A larger pro-Castro crowd
confronted them, who were joined by Castro; he informed media that the
men were anti-socials misled by the U.S. The protests dispersed with
no recorded injuries. Fearing that dissident groups would invade,
the government organised the "War of All the People" defense strategy,
planning a widespread guerrilla warfare campaign, and the unemployed
were given jobs building a network of bunkers and tunnels across the
We do not have a smidgen of capitalism or neo-liberalism. We are
facing a world completely ruled by neo-liberalism and capitalism. This
does not mean that we are going to surrender. It means that we have to
adopt to the reality of that world. That is what we are doing, with
great equanimity, without giving up our ideals, our goals. I ask you
to have trust in what the government and party are doing. They are
defending, to the last atom, socialist ideas, principles and goals.
Fidel Castro explaining the reforms of the
Castro believed in the need for reform if Cuban socialism was to
survive in a world now dominated by capitalist free markets. In
October 1991, the Fourth Congress of the Cuban Communist Party was
held in Santiago, at which a number of important changes to the
government were announced. Castro would step down as head of
government, to be replaced by the much younger Carlos Lage, although
Castro would remain the head of the Communist Party and
Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces. Many older members of
government were to be retired and replaced by their younger
counterparts. A number of economic changes were proposed, and
subsequently put to a national referendum. Free farmers' markets and
small-scale private enterprises would be legalized in an attempt to
stimulate economic growth, while U.S. dollars were also made legal
tender. Certain restrictions on emigration were eased, allowing more
discontented Cuban citizens to move to the United States. Further
democratization was to be brought in by having the National Assembly's
members elected directly by the people, rather than through municipal
and provincial assemblies. Castro welcomed debate between proponents
and opponents of the reforms, although over time he began to
increasingly sympathise with the opponent's positions, arguing that
such reforms must be delayed.
Castro's government diversified its economy into biotechnology and
tourism, the latter outstripping Cuba's sugar industry as its primary
source of revenue in 1995. The arrival of thousands of Mexican
and Spanish tourists led to increasing numbers of
Cubans turning to
prostitution; officially illegal, Castro refrained from cracking down
on prostitution in Cuba, fearing a political backlash. Economic
hardship led many
Cubans toward religion, both in the form of Roman
Catholicism and Santería. Although long thinking religious belief to
be backward, Castro softened his approach to religious institutions
and religious people were permitted for the first time to join the
Communist Party. Although he viewed the
Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church as
a reactionary, pro-capitalist institution, Castro organized a visit to
Pope John Paul II
Pope John Paul II for January 1998; it strengthened the
position of both the Cuban Church and Castro's government.
In the early 1990s Castro embraced environmentalism, campaigning
against global warming and the waste of natural resources, and
accusing the U.S. of being the world's primary polluter. In 1994
a ministry dedicated to the environment was established, and new laws
established in 1997 that promoted awareness of environmental issues
Cuba and stressed the sustainable use of natural
resources. By 2006,
Cuba was the world's only nation which met
the United Nations Development Programme's definition of sustainable
development, with an ecological footprint of less than 1.8 hectares
per capita and a
Human Development Index
Human Development Index of over 0.8. Castro also
became a proponent of the anti-globalization movement, criticizing
U.S. global hegemony and the control exerted by multinationals.
Castro maintained his devout anti-apartheid beliefs, and at the July
26 celebrations in 1991, he was joined onstage by the South African
political activist Nelson Mandela, recently released from prison.
Mandela praised Cuba's involvement in battling South Africa in Angola
and thanked Castro personally. He later attended Mandela's
inauguration as President of South Africa in 1994. In 2001 he
attended the Conference Against Racism in South Africa at which he
lectured on the global spread of racial stereotypes through U.S.
Pink tide: 2000–2006
Castro meeting with center-left
Brazilian President Lula da Silva, a
significant "Pink Tide" leader
Mired in economic problems,
Cuba was aided by the election of
socialist and anti-imperialist
Hugo Chávez to the Venezuelan
Presidency in 1999. Castro and Chávez developed a close
friendship, with the former acting as a mentor and father-figure to
the latter, and together they built an alliance that had
repercussions throughout Latin America. In 2000, they signed an
agreement through which
Cuba would send 20,000 medics to Venezuela, in
return receiving 53,000 barrels of oil per day at preferential rates;
in 2004, this trade was stepped up, with
Cuba sending 40,000 medics
and Venezuela providing 90,000 barrels a day. That same
year, Castro initiated Misión Milagro, a joint medical project which
aimed to provide free eye operations on 300,000 individuals from each
nation. The alliance boosted the Cuban economy, and in May
2005 Castro doubled the minimum wage for 1.6 million workers, raised
pensions, and delivered new kitchen appliances to Cuba's poorest
residents. Some economic problems remained; in 2004, Castro shut
down 118 factories, including steel plants, sugar mills and paper
processors to compensate for a critical shortage of fuel.
Cuba and Venezuela were the founding members of the Bolivarian
Alternative for the Americas (ALBA).
ALBA sought to redistribute
wealth evenly throughout member countries, to protect the region's
agriculture, and to oppose economic liberalization and
privatization. ALBA's origins lay in a December 2004 agreement
signed between the two countries, and was formalized through a
People's Trade Agreement also signed by Evo Morales'
Bolivia in April
2006. Castro had also been calling for greater Caribbean
integration since the late 1990s, saying that only strengthened
cooperation between Caribbean countries would prevent their domination
by rich nations in a global economy.
Cuba has opened four
additional embassies in the
Caribbean Community including: Antigua and
Barbuda, Dominica, Suriname, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. This
Cuba the only country to have embassies in all
independent countries of the Caribbean Community.
Castro amid cheering crowds in 2005
In contrast to the improved relations between
Cuba and a number of
leftist Latin American states, in 2004 it broke off diplomatic ties
with Panama after centrist President
Mireya Moscoso pardoned four
Cuban exiles accused of attempting to assassinate Castro in 2000.
Diplomatic ties were reinstalled in 2005 following the election of
leftist President Martín Torrijos. Castro's improving relations
across Latin America were accompanied by continuing animosity towards
the U.S. However, after massive damage caused by
Hurricane Michelle in
2001, Castro successfully proposed a one-time cash purchase of food
from the U.S. while declining its government's offer of humanitarian
aid. Castro expressed solidarity with the U.S. following the 2001
September 11 attacks, condemning
Al-Qaeda and offering Cuban airports
for the emergency diversion of any U.S. planes. He recognized
that the attacks would make U.S. foreign policy more aggressive, which
he believed was counter-productive. Castro criticized the 2003
invasion of Iraq, saying that the U.S.-led war had imposed an
international "law of the jungle".
In 1998, Canadian Prime Minister
Jean Chrétien arrived in
meet Castro and highlight their close ties. He was the first Canadian
government leader to visit the island since
Pierre Trudeau was in
Havana in 1976. In 2002, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter
visited Cuba, where he highlighted the lack of civil liberties in the
country and urged the government to pay attention to the Varela
Project of Oswaldo Payá.
Stepping down: 2006–2008
Poster advertising a Mass to pray for Castro's health that was posted
on a wall in Bogotá, Colombia, in 2007
Castro underwent surgery for intestinal bleeding, and on July 31,
2006, delegated his presidential duties to Raúl Castro. In
February 2007, Raúl announced that Fidel's health was improving and
that he was taking part in important issues of government. Later
Fidel called into Hugo Chávez's radio show Aló
Presidente. On April 21, Castro met
Wu Guanzheng of the Chinese
Communist Party's Politburo, with Chávez visiting in
August, and Morales in September. That month, the
Non-Aligned Movement held its 14th Summit in Havana, there agreeing to
appoint Castro as the organisation's president for a year's term.
Commenting on Castro's recovery, U.S. President
George W. Bush
George W. Bush said:
"One day the good Lord will take
Fidel Castro away." Hearing about
this, the atheist Castro ironically replied: "Now I understand why I
survived Bush's plans and the plans of other presidents who ordered my
assassination: the good Lord protected me." The quote was picked up on
by the world's media.
In a February 2008 letter, Castro announced that he would not accept
the positions of President of the Council of State and Commander in
Chief at that month's National Assembly meetings, remarking, "It
would betray my conscience to take up a responsibility that requires
mobility and total devotion, that I am not in a physical condition to
offer". On February 24, 2008, the National Assembly of People's
Power unanimously voted Raúl as president. Describing his
brother as "not substitutable", Raúl proposed that
Fidel continue to
be consulted on matters of great importance, a motion unanimously
approved by the 597 National Assembly members.
Retirement and final years : 2008–2016
Following his retirement, Castro's health deteriorated; international
press speculated that he had diverticulitis, but Cuba's government
refused to corroborate this. He continued to interact with the
Cuban people, published an opinion column titled "Reflections" in
Granma, used a Twitter account, and gave occasional public
lectures. In January 2009 Castro asked
Cubans not to worry about
his lack of recent news columns and failing health, and not to be
disturbed by his future death. He continued meeting foreign
leaders and dignitaries, and that month photographs were released of
Castro's meeting with Argentine President Cristina Fernández.
President of Mexico
President of Mexico Enrique Peña Nieto, January 2014;
even in retirement, Castro continued his involvement with politics and
In July 2010, he made his first public appearance since falling ill,
greeting science center workers and giving a television interview to
Mesa Redonda in which he discussed U.S. tensions with Iran and North
Korea. On August 7, 2010, Castro gave his first speech to the
National Assembly in four years, urging the U.S. not to take military
actions against those nations and warning of a nuclear holocaust.
When asked whether Castro may be re-entering government, culture
Abel Prieto told the BBC, "I think that he has always been in
Cuba's political life but he is not in the government ... He has
been very careful about that. His big battle is international
On April 19, 2011, Castro resigned from the Communist Party central
committee, thus stepping down as party leader. Raúl was selected
as his successor. Now without any official role in the country's
government, he took on the role of an elder statesman. In March 2011,
Castro condemned the NATO-led military intervention in Libya. In
Pope Benedict XVI
Pope Benedict XVI visited
Cuba for three days, during
which time he briefly met with Castro despite the Pope's vocal
opposition to Cuba's government. Later that year it was
revealed that along with Hugo Chávez, Castro had played a significant
behind-the-scenes role in orchestrating peace talks between the
Colombian government and the far left
FARC guerrilla movement to end
the conflict which had raged since 1964. During the North Korea
crisis of 2013, he urged both the North Korean and U.S. governments to
show restraint. Calling the situation "incredible and absurd", he
maintained that war would not benefit either side, and that it
represented "one of the gravest risks of nuclear war" since the Cuban
In December 2014, Castro was awarded the Chinese Confucius Peace Prize
for seeking peaceful solutions to his nation's conflict with the U.S.
and for his post-retirement efforts to prevent nuclear war. In
January 2015, he publicly commented on the "Cuban Thaw", an increased
normalization between Cuba-U.S. relations, by stating that while it
was a positive move for establishing peace in the region, he
mistrusted the U.S. government. He did not meet with U.S.
Barack Obama on the latter's visit to
Cuba in March 2016,
although sent him a letter stating that
Cuba "has no need of gifts
from the empire". That April, he gave his most extensive public
appearance in many years when addressing the Communist Party.
Highlighting that he was soon to turn 90 years old, he noted that he
would die in the near future but urged those assembled to retain their
communist ideals. In September 2016, Castro was visited at his
Havana home by the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, and later
that month was visited by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe. In
late October 2016, Castro met with the Portuguese president Marcelo
Rebelo de Sousa who became one of the last foreign leaders to meet
Fidel Castro's funeral procession passing through Sancti Spíritus
Main article: Death and state funeral of
Cuban state television announced that Castro had died on the night of
November 25, 2016. The cause of death was not
disclosed. His brother, President Raúl Castro,
confirmed the news in a brief speech: "The commander in chief of the
Cuban revolution died at 22:29 [EST] this evening." His death came 9
months after his older brother Ramón died at the age of 91 in
Fidel Castro was cremated on November 26, 2016. A
funeral procession travelled 900 kilometres along the island's central
highway, tracing in reverse, the route of the "Freedom Caravan" of
January 1959, and after nine days of public mourning, his ashes were
entombed in the
Santa Ifigenia Cemetery
Santa Ifigenia Cemetery in Santiago de Cuba.
Main article: Politics of
Castro with South American leaders of the
Mercosur trade bloc. In the
2000s Castro forged alliances in the Latin American "pink tide".
Castro proclaimed himself to be "a Socialist, a Marxist, and a
Leninist", and publicly identified as a Marxist–Leninist from
December 1961 onward. As a Marxist, Castro sought to transform
Cuba from a capitalist state which was dominated by foreign
imperialism to a socialist society and ultimately to a communist
society. Influenced by Guevara, he suggested that
Cuba could evade
most stages of socialism and progress straight to communism. The
Cuban Revolution nevertheless did not meet the Marxist axiom that
socialism would be achieved through proletariat revolution, for most
of the forces involved in Batista's overthrow were led by members of
the Cuban middle-class. According to Castro, a country could be
regarded as socialist if its means of production were controlled by
the state. In this way, his understanding of socialism was less about
who controlled power in a country and more about the method of
Castro's government was also nationalistic, with Castro declaring, "We
are not only Marxist-Leninists, but also nationalists and
patriots". In this it drew upon a longstanding tradition of Cuban
nationalism. Castro biographer Sebastian Balfour noted that "the
vein of moral regeneration and voluntarism that runs through" Castro's
thought owes far more to "Hispanic nationalism" than European
socialism or Marxism–Leninism. Historian
Richard Gott remarked
that one of the keys to Castro's success was his ability to utilize
the "twin themes of socialism and nationalism" and keep them
"endlessly in play". Castro described
Karl Marx and Cuban
José Martí as his main political influences,
although Gott believed that Martí ultimately remained more important
than Marx in Castro's politics. Castro described Martí's
political ideas as "a philosophy of independence and an exceptional
humanistic philosophy", and his supporters and apologists
repeatedly claimed that there were great similarities between the two
Biographer Volka Skierka described Castro's government as a "highly
individual, socialist-nationalist 'fidelista' system", with
Theodore Draper terming his approach "Castroism", viewing it as a
blend of European socialism with the Latin American revolutionary
tradition. Political scientist Paul C. Sondrol has described
Castro's approach to politics as "totalitarian utopianism", with
a style of leadership that drew upon the wider Latin American
phenomenon of the caudillo. He drew inspiration from the wider
Latin American anti-imperialist movements of the 1930s and 1940s,
including Argentina's Perón and Guatemala's Jacobo Árbenz.
Castro took a relatively socially conservative stance on many issues,
opposing drug use, gambling, and prostitution, which he viewed as
moral evils. Instead, he advocated hard work, family values,
integrity, and self-discipline.
Personal and public life
Castro first and foremost is and always has been a committed
egalitarian. He despises any system in which one class or group of
people lives much better than another. He wanted a system that
provided the basic needs to all — enough to eat, health care,
adequate housing and education. The authoritarian nature of the Cuban
Revolution stems largely from his commitment to that goal. Castro was
convinced that he was right, and that his system was for the good of
the people. Thus, anyone who stood against the revolution stood also
against the Cuban people and that, in Castro's eyes, was simply
unacceptable. There is, then, very little in the way of individual
freedoms — especially freedom of expression and assembly. And
there are political prisoners — those who have expressed
positions against the revolution — though today only some 300,
down markedly from the number at the outset of the revolution.
– Wayne S. Smith, US Interests Section in
Havana Chief from 1979 to
1982, in 2007
Biographer Leycester Coltman described Castro as "fiercely
hard-working, dedicated[,] loyal ... generous and magnanimous"
but noted that he could be "vindictive and unforgiving". He asserted
that Castro "always had a keen sense of humor and could laugh at
himself" but could equally be "a bad loser" who would act with
"ferocious rage if he thought that he was being humiliated".
Castro was well known for throwing tantrums, and could make "snap
judgements" which he refused to back down from. Biographer Peter
Bourne noted that Castro "suffers fools poorly" and that in his
younger years he was intolerant of those who did not share his
views. He claimed that Castro liked to meet with ordinary
citizens, both in
Cuba and abroad, but took a particularly paternal
attitude toward Cubans, treating them as if "they were a part of his
own giant family". British historian Alex Von Tunzelmann
commented that "though ruthless, [Castro] was a patriot, a man with a
profound sense that it was his mission to save the Cuban people".
Balfour described Castro as having a "voracity for knowledge" an
"elephantine memory" that allowed him to speak for hours on a variety
of different subjects.
Castro with his son Angel in 1954
Castro was known for his busy working hours, often only going to bed
at 3 or 4 a.m. He preferred to meet foreign diplomats in these
early hours, believing that they would be tired and he could gain the
upper hand in negotiations. He described
Ernest Hemingway as his
favorite writer, and enjoyed reading but was uninterested in
music. A sports fan, he also spent much of his time trying to
keep fit, undertaking regular exercise. He took a great interest
in gastronomy, as well as wine and whisky, and as Cuban leader was
known to wander into his kitchen to discuss cookery with his
chefs. Castro had a lifelong love of guns, and a preference
for life in the countryside over the city.
While various sources state that Castro didn't enrich himself, instead
living a life more modest than most Latin American presidents,
his former bodyguard Juan Reinaldo Sánchez alleged that Castro lived
in great luxury, with several houses and yachts that he had hidden
from the Cuban populace. In 2006,
Forbes estimated his personal
net worth at $900 million. According to Spanish newspaper El
País, the house of
Fidel Castro "is comfortable and functional, but
Fidel Castro's religious beliefs have been a matter of some debate; he
was baptized and raised a Roman Catholic, but he identified himself
later in life as an atheist. He criticized use of the Bible to justify
the oppression of women and Africans, but commented that
Christianity exhibited "a group of very humane precepts" which gave
the world "ethical values" and a "sense of social justice", relating,
"If people call me Christian, not from the standpoint of religion but
from the standpoint of social vision, I declare that I am a
Christian." He was an exponent of the idea that
Jesus Christ was
a communist, citing the feeding of the 5,000 and the story of Jesus
and the rich young man as evidence.
Cuban propaganda poster proclaiming a quote from Castro: "Luchar
contra lo imposible y vencer" ("To fight against the impossible and
Political scientist Paul C. Sondrol characterized Castro as
"quintessentially totalitarian in his charismatic appeal, utopian
functional role and public, transformative utilisation of power".
Unlike a number of other Soviet-era communist leaders, Castro's
government did not intentionally construct a cult of personality
around him, although his popularity among segments of the Cuban
populace nevertheless led to one developing in the early years of his
administration. By 2006, the
BBC reported that Castro's image
could frequently be found in Cuban stores, classrooms, taxicabs, and
on national television. Throughout his administration, large
throngs of supporters gathered to cheer at Castro's fiery speeches,
which typically lasted for hours and which were delivered without the
use of written notes. During speeches Castro regularly cited
reports and books he had read on a wide variety of subjects, including
military matters, plant cultivation, filmmaking, and chess
For 37 years, Castro publicly wore nothing but olive-green military
fatigues, emphasizing his role as the perpetual revolutionary, but in
the mid-1990s began wearing dark civilian suits and guayabera publicly
as well. Within Cuba, Castro was often nicknamed "El Caballo"
("The Horse"), a label attributed to Cuban entertainer Benny Moré
which alludes to Castro's well known philandering during the 1950s and
early 1960s, and during this period Castro was widely recognized
as a sex symbol in Cuba.
Family and friends
Castro and Camilo
Cienfuegos before playing a baseball game
Many details of Castro's private life, particularly involving his
family members, are scarce, as such information is censored by state
media. Castro's biographer, Robert E. Quirk, noted that
throughout his life the Cuban leader had been "unable to form a
lasting sexual relationship with any female".
Castro's first wife was Mirta Díaz-Balart, whom he married in October
1948, and together they had a son,
Fidel Ángel "Fidelito" Castro
Díaz-Balart, born in September 1949. He died of suicide in February
2018, over a year after his father’s death. Díaz-Balart and
Castro divorced in 1955, and she moved to Spain, although allegedly
Cuba in 2002 to live with Fidelito. Fidelito grew up
in Cuba; for a time, he ran Cuba's atomic-energy commission before
being removed from the post by his father.
Castro's family tree
Fidel was married to Mirta, he had an affair with Natalia "Naty"
Revuelta Clews, who gave birth to his daughter, Alina Fernández
Revuelta. Alina left
Cuba in 1993, disguised as a Spanish
tourist, and sought asylum in the U.S., from where she has
criticized her father's policies. By an unnamed woman he had
another son, Jorge Ángel Castro.
Fidel had another daughter,
Francisca Pupo (born 1953), the result of a one-night affair. Pupo and
her husband now live in Miami. Castro often engaged in one night
stands with women, some of whom were specially selected for him
while visiting foreign allies.
Fidel had five other sons by his second wife, Dalia Soto del
Valle — Antonio, Alejandro, Alexis, Alexander "Alex", and
Ángel Castro Soto del Valle.
Juanita Castro has been living in the
United States since
the early 1960s, and was an opponent of her brother's regime.
While in power, Castro's two closest male friends were the former
Havana Pepín Naranjo and his own personal physician, René
Vallejo. From 1980 until his death in 1995, Naranjo headed
Castro's team of advisers. Castro also had a deep friendship with
fellow revolutionary Celia Sánchez, who accompanied him almost
everywhere during the 1960s, and controlled almost all access to the
leader. Castro was also a good friend of the Colombian novelist
Gabriel García Márquez.
Reception and legacy
See also: Human rights in Cuba, Censorship in Cuba, List of awards and
honours bestowed upon
Fidel Castro, and List of things named after
Within Cuba, Fidel's domination of every aspect of the government and
the society remains total. His personal needs for absolute control
seems to have changed little over the years. He remains committed to a
disciplined society in which he is still determined to remake the
Cuban national character, creating work-orientated, socially concerned
individuals ... He wants to increase people's standard of living,
the availability of material goods, and to import the latest
technology. But the economic realities, despite rapid dramatic growth
in the gross national product, severely limit what
Cuba can buy on the
— Peter Bourne, Castro Biographer, 1986
One of the most controversial political leaders of his era,
Castro both inspired and dismayed people across the world during his
The Observer stated that he proved to be "as divisive
in death as he was in life", and that the only thing that his "enemies
and admirers" agreed upon was that he was "a towering figure" in world
affairs who "transformed a small Caribbean island into a major force
in world affairs".
The Daily Telegraph
The Daily Telegraph noted that across the
world he was "either praised as a brave champion of the people, or
derided as a power-mad dictator."
Under Castro's leadership,
Cuba became one of the best-educated and
healthiest societies in the
Third World as well as one of the most
militarised states in Latin America. Despite its small size and
limited economic weight, Castro's
Cuba gained a large role in world
affairs. On the island, the Castro government's legitimacy rested
on the improvements that it brought to social justice, healthcare, and
education. The administration also relied heavily on its appeals
to nationalistic sentiment, in particular the widespread hostility to
the U.S. government. According to Balfour, Castro's domestic
popularity stemmed from the fact that he symbolised "a long-cherished
hope of national liberation and social justice" for much of the
population. Balfour also noted that throughout Latin America,
Castro served as "a symbol of defiance against the continued economic
and cultural imperialism of the United States". Similarly, Wayne
S. Smith — the former Chief of the
United States Interests
Section in Havana — noted that Castro's opposition to U.S.
dominance and transformation of
Cuba into a significant world player
resulted in him receiving "warm applause" throughout the Western
Various Western governments and human rights organizations
nevertheless heavily criticized Castro and he was widely reviled in
the U.S. Following Castro's death, U.S. President-elect Donald
Trump called him a "brutal dictator", while the Cuban-American
Marco Rubio called him "an evil, murderous dictator" who
Cuba into "an impoverished island prison". Castro publicly
rejected the "dictator" label, stating that he constitutionally held
less power than most heads of state and insisting that his regime
allowed for greater democratic involvement in policy making than
Western liberal democracies. Nevertheless, critics claim that
Castro wielded significant unofficial influence aside from his
official duties. Quirk stated that Castro wielded "absolute
power" in Cuba, albeit not in a legal or constitutional manner,
while Bourne claimed that power in
Cuba was "completely invested" in
Castro, adding that it was very rare for "a country and a people"
to have been so completely dominated by "the personality of one
man". Balfour stated that Castro's "moral and political hegemony"
Cuba diminished the opportunities for democratic debate and
decision making. Describing Castro as a "totalitarian
dictator", Sondrol suggested that in leading "a political system
largely [of] his own creation and bearing his indelible stamp",
Castro's leadership style warranted comparisons with totalitarian
leaders like Mao Zedong, Hideki Tojo, Joseph Stalin, Adolf Hitler, and
Castro with Ahmed Ben Bella, principal leader of the
Algerian War of
Independence against French colonial rule; Ben Bella was one of many
political figures inspired by Castro
Noting that there were "few more polarising political figures" than
Amnesty International described him as "a progressive but
deeply flawed leader". In their view, he should be "applauded" for his
regime's "substantial improvements" to healthcare and education, but
criticised for its "ruthless suppression of freedom of
Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch stated that his government
constructed a "repressive machinery" which deprived
Cubans of their
"basic rights". Castro defended his government's record on human
rights, stating that the state was forced to limit the freedoms of
individuals and imprison those involved in counter-revolutionary
activities in order to protect the rights of the collective populace,
such as the right to employment, education, and health care.
Historian and journalist
Richard Gott considered Castro to be "one of
the most extraordinary political figures of the twentieth century",
noting that he had become a "world hero in the mould" of Giuseppe
Garibaldi to people throughout the developing world for his
anti-imperialist efforts. Balfour stated that Castro's story had
"few parallels in contemporary history", for there existed no other
Third World leader" in the second half of the twentieth century who
held "such a prominent and restless part on the international stage"
or remained head of state for such a long period. Bourne
described Castro as "an influential world leader" who commanded "great
respect" from individuals of all political ideologies across the
developing world. Russian President
Vladimir Putin described
Castro as both "a sincere and reliable friend of Russia" and a "symbol
of an era", while Chinese Premier Xi Jinping similarly referred to him
as "a close comrade and a sincere friend" to China. Indian Prime
Narendra Modi termed him "one of the most iconic
personalities of the 20th century" and a "great friend", while South
Jacob Zuma praised Castro for aiding black South
Africans in "our struggle against apartheid". He was awarded a
wide variety of awards and honors from foreign governments, and was
cited as an inspiration for foreign leaders like Ahmed Ben Bella,
and Nelson Mandela, who subsequently awarded him South Africa's
highest civilian award for foreigners, the Order of Good Hope.
The biographer Volka Skierka stated that "he will go down in history
as one of the few revolutionaries who remained true to his
Following Castro's death, Cuba's government announced that it would be
passing a law prohibiting the naming of "institutions, streets, parks
or other public sites, or erecting busts, statues or other forms of
tribute" in honor of the late Cuban leader in keeping with his wishes
to prevent a personality cult from developing around him.
^ (Medical leave starting July 31, 2006)
^ "Castro". Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary.
^ Bourne 1986, p. 14; Coltman 2003, p. 3; Castro &
Ramonet 2009, pp. 23–24.
^ Bourne 1986, pp. 14–15; Quirk 1993, pp. 7–8; Coltman
2003, pp. 1–2; Castro & Ramonet 2009, pp. 24–29.
^ Bourne 1986, pp. 14–15; Quirk 1993, p. 4; Coltman 2003,
p. 3; Castro & Ramonet 2009, pp. 24–29.
^ Bourne 1986, pp. 16–17; Coltman 2003, p. 3; Castro &
Ramonet 2009, pp. 31–32.
^ Quirk 1993, p. 6; Coltman 2003, pp. 5–6; Castro &
Ramonet 2009, pp. 45–48, 52–57.
^ Bourne 1986, pp. 29–30; Coltman 2003, pp. 5–6; Castro
& Ramonet 2009, pp. 59–60.
^ Quirk 1993, p. 13; Coltman 2003, pp. 6–7; Castro &
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^ Bourne 1986, pp. 14–15; Quirk 1993, p. 14; Coltman 2003,
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^ Bourne 1986, p. 13; Quirk 1993, p. 19; Coltman 2003,
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^ Bourne 1986, pp. 9–10; Quirk 1993, pp. 20, 22; Coltman
2003, pp. 16–17; Castro & Ramonet 2009, pp. 91–93.
^ Bourne 1986, pp. 34–35; Quirk 1993, p. 23; Coltman 2003,
^ Coltman 2003, p. 20.
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^ Coltman 2003, pp. 27–28; Castro & Ramonet 2009,
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^ Coltman 2003, p. 30; Von Tunzelmann 2011, pp. 30–33.
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^ a b Coltman 2003, pp. 36–37.
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^ Castro & Ramonet 2009, p. 100.
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^ Coltman 2003, p. 49.
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^ Quirk 1993, p. 29; Coltman 2003, p. 50.
^ Bourne 1986, p. 39; Coltman 2003, p. 51.
^ Coltman 2003, p. 51.
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^ Quirk 1993, p. 31; Coltman 2003, pp. 52–53.
^ Coltman 2003, p. 53.
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Coltman 2003, pp. 55–56.
^ Quirk 1993, pp. 33–34; Coltman 2003, p. 57.
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^ Coltman 2003, p. 64; Von Tunzelmann 2011, p. 44.
^ Quirk 1993, pp. 41, 45; Coltman 2003, p. 63.
^ Coltman 2003, p. 79.
^ Bourne 1986, pp. 68–69; Quirk 1993, pp. 50–52; Coltman
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^ Bourne 1986, p. 69; Coltman 2003, p. 66; Castro &
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^ Bourne 1986, p. 73; Coltman 2003, pp. 66–67.
^ Coltman 2003, pp. 69–70, 73.
^ Coltman 2003, p. 74.
^ Bourne 1986, p. 76; Coltman 2003, pp. 71, 74.
^ Coltman 2003, pp. 75–76.
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Coltman 2003, pp. 97–99.
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2003, p. 100.
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^ Bourne 1986, p. 111; Quirk 1993, p. 86.
^ Bourne 1986, p. 112; Quirk 1993, p. 88; Coltman 2003,
^ "Por vez primera en México se exhibe el testimonio fotográfico del
La Jornada UNAM (in Spanish). December 11, 2001.
Retrieved November 26, 2016.
^ Bourne 1986, pp. 115–117; Quirk 1993, pp. 96–98;
Coltman 2003, pp. 102–103; Castro & Ramonet 2009,
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2003, pp. 104–105.
^ Bourne 1986, pp. 117–118, 124; Quirk 1993,
pp. 101–102, 108–114; Coltman 2003, pp. 105–110.
^ Bourne 1986, pp. 111–124;Coltman 2003, p. 104.
^ Bourne 1986, pp. 122, 12–130; Quirk 1993, pp. 102–104,
114–116; Coltman 2003, p. 109.
^ Bourne 1986, pp. 132–133; Quirk 1993, p. 115; Coltman
2003, pp. 110–112.
^ Bourne 1986, p. 134; Coltman 2003, p. 113.
^ Bourne 1986, pp. 134–135; Quirk 1993, pp. 119–126;
Coltman 2003, p. 113.
^ Quirk 1993, p. 126.
^ Bourne 1986, pp. 135–136; Quirk 1993, pp. 122–125;
Coltman 2003, pp. 114–115.
^ Bourne 1986, pp. 125–126; Coltman 2003, pp. 114–117.
^ Bourne 1986, p. 137.
^ Coltman 2003, pp. 116–117.
^ Bourne 1986, p. 139; Quirk 1993, p. 127; Coltman 2003,
^ Bourne 1986, p. 114; Quirk 1993, p. 129; Coltman 2003,
^ Coltman 2003, p. 122.
^ Bourne 1986, p. 138; Quirk 1993, p. 130; Coltman 2003,
^ a b Bourne 1986, pp. 142–143; Quirk 1993, pp. 128,
134–136; Coltman 2003, pp. 121–122.
^ Quirk 1993, pp. 145, 148.
^ a b Bourne 1986, pp. 148–150; Quirk 1993, pp. 141–143;
Coltman 2003, pp. 122–123. The text of the Sierra Maestra
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^ Bourne 1986, pp. 140–142; Quirk 1993, pp. 131–134;
Coltman 2003, p. 120.
^ Bourne 1986, p. 143; Quirk 1993, p. 159; Coltman 2003,
^ Bourne 1986, p. 155; Coltman 2003, pp. 122, 129.
^ a b Coltman 2003, pp. 129–130, 134.
^ Bourne 1986, pp. 152–154; Coltman 2003, pp. 130–131.
^ a b Quirk 1993, pp. 181–183; Coltman 2003,
^ Bourne 1986, p. 158.
^ Bourne 1986, p. 158; Quirk 1993, pp. 194–196; Coltman
2003, p. 135.
^ a b Bourne 1986, pp. 158–159; Quirk 1993, pp. 196,
202–207; Coltman 2003, pp. 136–137.
^ Bourne 1986, pp. 158–159; Quirk 1993, pp. 203,
207–208; Coltman 2003, p. 137.
^ Quirk 1993, p. 212; Coltman 2003, p. 137.
^ Bourne 1986, p. 160; Quirk 1993, p. 211; Coltman 2003,
^ Bourne 1986, p. 160; Quirk 1993, p. 212; Coltman 2003,
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2003, pp. 137–138.
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2003, pp. 126, 141–142.
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Coltman 2003, pp. 150–154.
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^ Neill, Brennan (28 November 2016). "How 1 man brought
to Montreal in April 1959".
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^ Quirk 1993, p. 234.
^ a b Bourne 1986, p. 186.
^ Martorell, Carlos Rodriguez (July 17, 2008). "Book reveals extent of
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^ Bourne 1986, pp. 181–183; Quirk 1993, pp. 248–252;
Coltman 2003, p. 162.
^ a b c d Bourne 1986, pp. 275–276.
^ Bourne 1986, pp. 275–276; Quirk 1993, p. 324.
^ Bourne 1986, p. 179.
^ Quirk 1993, p. 280; Coltman 2003, p. 168.
^ Bourne 1986, pp. 195–197; Coltman 2003, p. 167.
^ Quirk 1993, p. 197; Coltman 2003, pp. 165–166.
^ Bourne 1986, pp. 181, 197; Coltman 2003, p. 168.
^ Coltman 2003, pp. 176–177.
^ Coltman 2003, p. 167; Ros 2006, pp. 159–201; Franqui
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^ Bourne 1986, p. 202; Quirk 1993, p. 296.
^ Bourne 1986, pp. 189–190, 198–199; Quirk 1993,
pp. 292–296; Coltman 2003, pp. 170–172.
^ Bourne 1986, pp. 205–206; Quirk 1993, pp. 316–319;
Coltman 2003, p. 173.
^ Bourne 1986, pp. 201–202; Quirk 1993, p. 302; Coltman
2003, p. 172.
^ Bourne 1986, pp. 202, 211–213; Quirk 1993,
pp. 272–273; Coltman 2003, pp. 172–173.
^ Bourne 1986, p. 214; Quirk 1993, p. 349; Coltman 2003,
^ Bourne 1986, p. 215.
^ Bourne 1986, pp. 206–209; Quirk 1993, pp. 333–338;
Coltman 2003, pp. 174–176.
^ Bourne 1986, pp. 209–210; Quirk 1993, p. 337.
^ Quirk 1993, p. 339.
^ Quirk 1993, p. 300; Coltman 2003, p. 176.
^ Bourne 1986, p. 125; Quirk 1993, p. 300.
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2003, p. 176.
^ Geyer 1991, p. 277 Quirk 1993, p. 313.
^ Quirk 1993, p. 330.
^ Bourne 1986, p. 226.
^ Bourne 1986, pp. 215–216; Quirk 1993, pp. 353–354,
365–366; Coltman 2003, p. 178.
^ Bourne 1986, pp. 217–220; Quirk 1993, pp. 363–367;
Coltman 2003, pp. 178–179.
^ Bourne 1986, pp. 221–222; Quirk 1993, p. 371.
^ Bourne 1986, pp. 221–222; Quirk 1993, p. 369; Coltman
2003, pp. 180, 186.
^ Bourne 1986, pp. 222–225; Quirk 1993, pp. 370–374;
Coltman 2003, pp. 180–184.
^ Bourne 1986, pp. 226–227; Quirk 1993, pp. 375–378;
Coltman 2003, pp. 180–184.
^ Coltman 2003, pp. 185–186.
^ Bourne 1986, p. 230; Geyer 1991, p. 276; Quirk 1993,
pp. 387, 396; Coltman 2003, p. 188.
^ Geyer 1991, pp. 274–275, Quirk 1993, pp. 385–386.
^ a b Bourne 1986, p. 231, Coltman 2003, p. 188.
^ Quirk 1993, p. 405.
^ Bourne 1986, pp. 230–234; Geyer 1991, p. 274; Quirk
1993, pp. 395, 400–401; Coltman 2003, p. 190.
^ Bourne 1986, pp. 232–234, Quirk 1993, pp. 397–401,
Coltman 2003, p. 190
^ Bourne 1986, p. 232, Quirk 1993, p. 397.
^ Bourne 1986, p. 233.
^ Quirk 1993, pp. 525–526; Coltman 2003, pp. 188–189.
^ "Castro admits 'injustice' for gays and lesbians during revolution",
CNN, Shasta Darlington, August 31, 2010.
^ Bourne 1986, p. 233, Quirk 1993, pp. 203–204, 410–412,
Coltman 2003, p. 189.
^ Bourne 1986, pp. 234–236, Quirk 1993, pp. 403–406,
Coltman 2003, p. 192.
^ Bourne 1986, pp. 258–259, Coltman 2003, pp. 191–192.
^ Coltman 2003, pp. 192–194.
^ Coltman 2003, p. 194.
^ Coltman 2003, p. 195.
^ Bourne 1986, pp. 238–239, Quirk 1993, p. 425, Coltman
2003, pp. 196–197.
^ Coltman 2003, p. 197.
^ Coltman 2003, pp. 198–199.
^ Bourne 1986, p. 239, Quirk 1993, pp. 443–434, 449,
Coltman 2003, pp. 199–200, 203.
^ Bourne 1986, pp. 241–242, Quirk 1993, pp. 444–445.
^ Bourne 1986, pp. 245–248; Quirk 1993, pp. 458–470;
Coltman 2003, pp. 204–205.
^ Bourne 1986, p. 249; Quirk 1993, p. 538.
^ Bourne 1986, pp. 249–250; Quirk 1993, p. 702.
^ Quirk 1993, pp. 435–434.
^ Quirk 1993, pp. 454–454, 479–480.
^ Quirk 1993, pp. 530–534; Coltman 2003, p. 213.
^ Bourne 1986, pp. 250–251.
^ Bourne 1986, p. 263; Quirk 1993, pp. 488–489.
^ Quirk 1993, pp. 484–486.
^ Quirk 1993, p. 534; Coltman & 2003, p. 213.
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^ Quirk 1993, p. 744.
^ Bourne 1986, p. 255; Coltman 2003, p. 211.
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Coltman 2003, pp. 211–212.
^ Bourne 1986, pp. 267–268; Quirk 1993, pp. 582–585;
Coltman 2003, p. 216.
^ Bourne 1986, p. 265; Coltman 2003, p. 214.
^ Bourne 1986, p. 267.
^ Bourne 1986, p. 269.
^ a b Quirk 1993, pp. 559–560.
^ Bourne 1986, pp. 269–270; Quirk 1993, pp. 588–590.
^ Bourne 1986, pp. 270–271; Quirk 1993, pp. 597–600;
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2003, p. 230.
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^ Bourne 1986, p. 277.
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703; Coltman 2003, pp. 233–236, 240.
^ Quirk 1993, pp. 706–707; Coltman 2003, pp. 237–238.
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Coltman 2003, p. 239.
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^ Bourne 1986, p. 284; Quirk 1993, pp. 745–746.
^ Quirk 1993, pp. 721–723.
^ Bourne 1986, pp. 283–284; Quirk 1993, pp. 724–725;
Coltman 2003, p. 240.
^ Bourne 1986, p. 282; Quirk 1993, p. 737.
^ Bourne 1986, p. 283; Quirk 1993, pp. 726–729; Coltman
2003, pp. 240–241.
^ Bourne 1986, pp. 281, 284–287; Quirk 1993,
pp. 747–750; Coltman 2003, pp. 242–243.
^ Quirk 1993, pp. 752; Coltman 2003, p. 243.
^ Quirk 1993, pp. 759–761; Coltman 2003, pp. 243–244.
^ Quirk 1993, p. 750.
^ Quirk 1993, pp. 766–767.
^ Coltman 2003, p. 245.
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776–781; Coltman 2003, p. 245.
^ Coltman 2003, p. 249.
^ O'Grady, Mary Anastasia (October 30, 2005). "Counting Castro's
Victims". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved February 11, 2015.
^ Quirk 1993, p. 759.
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Coltman 2003, p. 245.
^ Bourne 1986, p. 294.
^ Quirk 1993, pp. 750–751; Coltman 2003, pp. 244–245.
^ Bourne 1986, p. 289; Quirk 1993, pp. 756–759, 769, 771;
Coltman 2003, pp. 247–248.
^ Quirk 1993, pp. 793–794.
^ Quirk 1993, pp. 754–755, 804; Coltman 2003, p. 250; Gott
2004, p. 288.
^ Quirk 1993, pp. 804, 816.
^ a b Coltman 2003, p. 255.
^ Quirk 1993, p. 808; Coltman 2003, pp. 250–251.
^ Bourne 1986, p. 295; Quirk 1993, pp. 807–810; Coltman
2003, pp. 251–252.
^ Bourne 1986, p. 296; Quirk 1993, pp. 810–815; Coltman
2003, p. 252.
^ Quirk 1993, pp. 812–813; Coltman 2003, p. 252.
^ CLYDE H. FARNSWORTH. "Soviet Said to Reduce Support for Cuban
Economy." New York Times. May, 1988.
^ World Bank Group GDPs: Cuba. Cuba's GDP in 1988 is given as $27.46
billion in 2017 dollars, which deflates to $13.08 billion in 1988
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2003, pp. 253–254.
^ Quirk 1993, p. 818.
^ Coltman 2003, pp. 254–255.
^ Quirk 1993, p. 826; Coltman 2003, p. 256; Gott 2004,
^ Coltman 2003, p. 256.
^ Coltman 2003, p. 257.
^ Quirk 1993, pp. 827–828; Coltman 2003, pp. 260–261;
Gott 2004, p. 276.
^ Quirk 1993, pp. 828–829; Coltman 2003, pp. 258–266;
Gott 2004, pp. 279–286.
^ a b c d Coltman 2003, p. 224.
^ Coltman 2003, pp. 257–258; Gott 2004, pp. 276–279.
^ Quirk 1993, p. 830; Coltman 2003, p. 277; Gott 2004,
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^ Coltman 2003, pp. 268–270; Gott 2004, p. 286.
^ Quirk 1993, p. 831; Coltman 2003, pp. 270–271.
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