Born on August 13, 1926, near Cuba, Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz was a political leader and symbol of communist revolution in Latin America. Fidel had 2 wives in his lifetime. His first wife was Mirta Diaz-Balart, who divorced him in the mid-1950s. His other wife was Soto del Valle. Fidel is known to have had at least 9 children.
Fidel’s schooling in his earlier days was carried out at Roman Catholic boarding schools in Santiago de Cuba. Later, he attended the Catholic high school Belén in Havana. Here, he showed himself to be an incredible athlete. During the year 1945, Fidel went to the School of Law of the University of Havana. Politics was his main activity there. In 1947, Fidel took part in an attempt to invade the Dominican Republic and overthrow General Rafael Trujillo. Later, Fidel decided to take place in riots.
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Following his graduation in 1950, Fidel began to practice law. He also came to be a member of the reformist Cuban People’s Party, or Ortodoxos. Fidel was the candidate for a seat in the House of Representatives from a Havana district in the scheduled elections. However, the former Cuban president General Fulgencio Batista overthrew the government and ended the elections.
Upon realizing legal means were unable to stop the dictatorship, Fidel started organizing a rebel group for an attack in 1953. He led around 160 rebels in an attack on military barracks in Santiago de Cuba. Fidel was hoping to spark an uprising, but most men participating in the attack were killed. Even Fidel Castro himself was arrested. He was sentenced to fifteen years in prison but released on political amnesty in 1955. They went to Mexico and continued to campaign against the aforementioned dictatorship. Here, Fidel organized a revolutionary group. It was called the 26th of July movement.
In the year 1956, Fidel and 81 armed men arrived on the eastern coast of Cuba, and all were either killed or captured except for Fidel and his brother, Ernesto Guevara, and 9 more men. They retreated but began waging guerrilla warfare against Batista’s forces. With aid from an increasing number of volunteers, Fidel’s forces won many victories. With this, and very effective propaganda efforts, Batista was forced to flee the country.
Fidel Castro, now an acknowledged revolutionary leader, was named commander in chief of the armed forces of Cuba’s government. The president of this new government was Manuel Urrutia, until he was forced to resign in July of 1959. At this point, Fidel succeeded in taking political power into his hands.
In leading a revolution and transforming his state into the first communist state in the Western Hemisphere, Fidel certainly became an impactful figure in the Hispanic World. However, what exact contributions did he make? A few positive examples are free healthcare and free education. With this, he also contributed to giving Cuba first-world levels of literacy and life expectancies. However, he also gave the country shortages of many kinds. This includes transportation, food, and housing. Other items were made incredibly expensive, such as soap, books, and clothes. Even after his brother became president, these problems have persisted.
Although Fidel is no longer alive, he is still talked about. The reason is because of many factors. Probably the most prominent reason is because of the effect his leadership still has on Cuba today, even after his passing. The country still has persisting shortages and financial problems. The state still controls much of the economy and pays an average of only £15 a month. Some lucky citizens can earn more money through tourism. Although Cubans have learned how to improvise and live with dignity despite their low salaries, they still wish for the economy to improve. “‘We want to buy good stuff, nice stuff, like you do in your countries,’ said Miguel, 20, gazing wistfully at Adidas runners on a store on Neptuno street” (theguardian.com, 2016).
Fidel and the U.S. had a rather poor relationship. In fact, the United States had made many failed attempts to kill him, including poisoning his cigars. One leading cause for this was Fidel nationalizing all U.S. owned businesses. This action led to the United States ending diplomatic relations and imposing a trade embargo. However, the two nations officially normalized their relations in July 2015. With this came an end to the trade embargo that had been in place since the 1960s.
Fidel Castro is not just well known in Cuba or America. He is internationally known due to his influence and interactions with the U.S. and other areas, such as the Soviet Union. Also, the credit for first communist state in the western world goes to him.
In my opinion, the acts of Fidel Castro are not all inherently wrong as some say. He gave the people of Cuba free healthcare and free education, but to be able to run this would ruin the economy. While morally right, this is not feasible in the world we live in. Trying to attain this goal causes shortages of many things when sufficient funding is not available, as in the case of Fidel and Cuba. Fidel is a good figure to study, as his story shows the unattainability of a world where everything’s free. When people try to be more realistic, more suitable ways of government for the world we live in can be developed.
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