Fidel Castro

1959 - 2006
2006 (approx.)
Fidel Castro
Castro in front of a Havana statue of Cuban national hero José Martí in 2003.
First Secretary of the
Communist Party of Cuba
In office
July 1961 – April 19, 2011
Deputy Raúl Castro
Preceded by Blas Roca Calderio
Succeeded by Raúl Castro
15th President of Cuba
In office
December 2, 1976 – February 24, 2008*
Prime Minister Himself
Vice President Raúl Castro
Preceded by Osvaldo Dorticós Torrado
Succeeded by Raúl Castro
16th Prime Minister of Cuba
In office
February 16, 1959 – February 24, 2008
President Manuel Urrutia Lleó
Osvaldo Dorticós Torrado
Preceded by José Miró Cardona
Succeeded by Raúl Castro
7th and 23rd Secretary-General of the Non-Aligned Movement
In office
September 16, 2006 – February 24, 2008
Preceded by Abdullah Ahmad Badawi
Succeeded by Raúl Castro
In office
September 10, 1979 – March 6, 1983
Preceded by Junius Richard Jayawardene
Succeeded by Neelam Sanjiva Reddy
Personal details
Born Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz
(1926-08-13) August 13, 1926 (age 86)
Birán, Cuba
Political party Communist Party of Cuba
Spouse(s) Mirta Diaz-Balart (1948–1955)
Dalia Soto del Valle (1980–present)
Relations (siblings)
Raúl Castro Ruz
Emma Castro Ruz
Agustina Castro Ruz
Ramon Castro Ruz
Angela Castro Ruz
Juana Castro Ruz
Pedro Emilio Castro Argota
Manuel Castro Argota
Lidia Castro Argota
Antonia Maria Castro Argota
Georgina Castro Argota
Children Fidel 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 Laborde
Francisca Pupo
Alma mater University of Havana
Profession Lawyer
Religion None (Agnosticism)
*Acting presidential powers were transferred to Raúl Castro from July 31, 2006.

Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz (Spanish: [fiˈðel ˈkastro]; born August 13, 1926) is a Cuban communist revolutionary and politician who was Prime Minister of Cuba from 1959 to 1976, and President from 1976 to 2008. He also served as the Commander in Chief of the country’s armed forces from 1959 to 2008, and as the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba from 1961 until 2011. Politically a Marxist-Leninist, under his administration the Republic of Cuba became a one-party socialist state; industry and businesses were nationalized, and socialist reforms implemented in all areas of society. Internationally, Castro was the Secretary-General of the Non-Aligned Movement, from 1979 to 1983 and from 2006 to 2008.

Born the illegitimate son of a wealthy farmer, Castro adopted leftist anti-imperialist politics while studying law at the University of Havana. After participating in armed rebellions against right-wing governments in the Dominican Republic and Colombia, he planned the overthrow of the United States-backed military junta of Cuban president Fulgencio Batista, and served a year’s imprisonment in 1953 after a failed attack on the Moncada Barracks. On release he traveled to Mexico, where he formed a revolutionary group with his brother Raúl and friend Che Guevara, the 26th of July Movement. Returning to Cuba, Castro led the Cuban Revolution which ousted Batista in 1959, and brought his own assumption of military and political power. Alarmed by his revolutionary credentials and friendly relations with the Soviet Union, the U.S. governments of Dwight D. Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy unsuccessfully attempted to remove him, by economic blockade, assassination and counter-revolution, including the Bay of Pigs invasion of 1961. Countering these threats, Castro formed an economic and military alliance with the Soviets, and allowed them to place nuclear weapons on the island, sparking the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.

In 1961 Castro proclaimed the socialist nature of the Cuban revolution, with Cuba becoming a one-party state under Communist Party governance. Ideologically-based reforms 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 foreign revolutionary socialist groups in the hope of toppling world capitalism, sending Cuban troops to fight in the Yom Kippur War, Ogaden War and Angolan Civil War. Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, Castro led Cuba into its economic "Special Period", before taking the country into the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas in 2006 and forging alliances with other nations in the Latin American Pink Tide. Amid failing health, in 2006 he transferred his responsibilities to Vice-President Raúl Castro, who assumed full presidency in 2008.

Castro is a controversial and divisive world figure, lauded as a champion of anti-imperialism, humanitarianism, socialism and environmentalism by his supporters, but viewed as a dictator who has overseen multiple human rights abuses by his critics. Through his actions and his writings he has significantly influenced the politics of various individuals and groups across the world, including Nelson Mandela, Hugo Chávez, Evo Morales, Rafael Correa and Daniel Ortega.