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Fidel Castro

Castro in 2003
Personal data
Date of birthAugust 13, 1926(age 89)
Place of birthBirán, Cuba
Political partyCommunist Party of Cuba
SpouseMirta Diaz-Balart (1948 � 1955)
Dalia Soto del Valle (1980 � present)
Raúl Castro
Enma Castro
Agustina Castro
Ramon Castro Ruz
Angelita Castro
ChildrenFidel Ángel Castro Diaz-Balart
Alina Fernández-Revuelta
Alexis Castro-Soto
Alejandro Castro-Soto
Antonio Castro-Soto
Angel Castro-Soto
Alex Castro-Soto
Jorge Angel Castro
Francisca Pupo
Alma materUniversity of Havana
ReligionNone (Self-described as Secular; formerly Atheist)
First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba
In officeOctober 3, 1965 - April 19, 2011
DeputyRaúl Castro
Succeeded byRaúl Castro
Preceded byPosition established
President of Cuba
In officeDecember 2, 1976 - February 24, 2008
DeputyRaúl Castro
Succeeded byRaúl Castro
Preceded byOsvaldo Dorticós Torrado
Prime Minister of Cuba
In officeFebruary 16, 1959 - December 2, 1976
PresidentManuel Urrutia Lleó
Osvaldo Dorticós Torrado
Succeeded byPosition abolished
Preceded byJosé Miró Cardona
7th and 23rd Secretary-General of the Non-Aligned Movement
In officeSeptember 16, 2006 - February 24, 2008
Succeeded byRaúl Castro
Preceded byAbdullah Ahmad Badawi
In officeSeptember 10, 1979 - March 6, 1983
Succeeded byNeelam Sanjiva Reddy
Preceded byJunius Richard Jayawardene

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Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz (-esfiˈðel ˈkastrolang; born August 13, 1926) is a Cuban revolutionary and politician, having held the position of Prime Minister of Cuba from 1959 to 1976, and then President from 1976 to 2008. He also served as the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba from the party's foundation in 1961 until 2011. Politically a Marxist-Leninist, under his administration Cuba was converted into a one-party socialist state, with industry and business being nationalised under state ownership and socialist reforms implemented in all areas of society.

Born the illegitimate son of a wealthy farmer, Castro became involved in anti-imperialist politics whilst studying law at the University of Havana. Subsequently involving himself in armed rebellions against rightist governments in the Dominican Republic and Colombia, he went on to conclude that the U.S.-backed Cuban President Fulgencio Batista, who was widely seen as a dictator, had to be overthrown; to this end he led a failed armed attack on the Moncada Barracks in 1953. Imprisoned for a year, he then traveled to Mexico, and with the aid of his brother Raúl Castro and friend Che Guevara, he assembled together a group of Cuban revolutionaries, the July 26 Movement. Returning with them to Cuba, he took a key role in the Cuban Revolution, leading a successful guerilla war against Batista's forces, with Batista himself fleeing into exile in 1959.

Castro subsequently came to power and shortly thereafter became Prime Minister. His anti-imperialist views alarmed the United States, who through the CIA organised the failed Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961 to overthrow his government, before proceeding to orchestrate repeated assassination attempts against him and implement an economic blockade of Cuba. To counter this threat, Castro forged an alliance with the Soviet Union and allowed them to store nuclear weapons on the island, leading to the events of the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. Adopting Marxism-Leninism as his guiding ideology, in 1961 Castro proclaimed the socialist nature of the Cuban revolution, and in 1965 became First Secretary of the newly founded Communist Party, with all other parties being abolished. He then led the transformation of Cuba into a socialist republic, nationalising industry and introducing free universal healthcare and education. A keen internationalist, Castro also introduced Cuban medical brigades who traveled to various parts of the developing world, and aided a number of foreign leftist revolutionary groups.

In 1976 he became President of the Council of State as well as of the Council of Ministers, whilst also holding the rank of Commander in Chief of the armed forces. On the international stage, he held the post of Secretary-General of the Non-Aligned Movement from 1979 to 1983. Following the collapse of key ally the Soviet Union in 1991, Castro led Cuba into its economic "Special Period", before then taking the country into the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas in 2006 and forging economic and political alliances with other nations in the Latin American "Pink Tide". Amidst failing health, in 2006 Castro transferred his responsibilities to Vice-President Raúl Castro, who was then elected President when Fidel stepped down in 2008.

Castro is a controversial and highly divisive world figure, being lauded as a champion of anti-imperialism and the oppressed by his supporters, but alternately his critics have accused him of being a dictator whose authoritarian administration has overseen multiple human rights abuses. Nonetheless, he has had a significant influence on the politics of a number of other world leaders, namely Nelson Mandela, Hugo Chávez and Evo Morales, and he is widely idolised by many leftists, socialists and anti-imperialists across the world.

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