Biography of Famous Cuban Leader Fidel Castro Part 1

About the famous Cuban leader Fidel Castro, biography and history of the ruler.

Famous and Infamous Rulers in History


Vital Statistics: Born Aug. 13, 1926, in Oriente Province, Fidel Castro Ruz grew up on his Spanish-born father's plantation at the rural eastern end of Cuba. A laborer when he first emigrated to Cuba, Angel Castro had prospered. He married his second wife some time after the birth of Fidel, the fourth of their seven children. Fidel was a 10-lb. baby with dark eyes and curly hair. Throughout his childhood he had an abundance of energy, optimism, and audacity, and he early attained an impressive 6 ft. 2 in. and a substantial girth. His prodigious appetites for food, sports, and talk have remained undiminished through the years. At 32 Castro became the first of his generation to achieve political power in the Western Hemisphere, when in 1959 he overcame tremendous obstacles and overthrew the corrupt dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista. After installing himself as the Jefe Maximo ("maximum leader") of Cuba, Castro retained the beard, rumpled fatigues, and Spartan life-style of his guerrilla days. Fidel's brand of revolution was uniquely his own, and his socialist vision of Cuba has held together largely on the strength of his enormous charisma.

Personal Life: As a boy Castro threatened to burn the house down if his parents didn't send him to school. They relented, and Fidel received a Jesuit education in Havana. According to the school yearbook, he was "a true athlete, always defending with bravery and pride the flag of his school." In 1944 he was voted Cuba's best all-around school athlete. One of his instructors observed that "the actor in him will not be lacking." Although Castro was later excommunicated by the Catholic Church for political acts against Cuban priests, he was never antireligious--merely indifferent to religion's prominent place in Cuban life.

Fidel excelled not only in sports but also in oratory and in fighting. He simply never gave up, and this persistence became a cornerstone of his brilliance as a revolutionary warrior. In 1945 Castro entered the University of Havana to study law--a choice made chiefly because of his oratorical talent--and soon immersed himself in radical campus politics. Even as a boy Castro had been an agitator; at 13 he had tried to incite a revolt among his father's cane cutters. As a student he went further; he bought a revolver and in 1947 joined an ill-starred expedition to overthrow Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo. The following year he went to Colombia and got his first taste of guerrilla fighting in a student uprising. The roughneck image stayed, and rumors circulated that he had killed a priest in Colombia.

Castro earned his doctoral degree in law in 1950 and practiced for a few years, handling cases for political dissidents and the poor. In 1952 he became a candidate for Parliament, but Batista canceled the elections. After that Castro devoted himself to ousting the Batista regime. In his zeal he neglected every aspect of his personal life. Mirta Diaz Balart, who had become Castro's wife in 1948 and had borne him a son--"Fidelito"--in 1949, left for the U.S. Fidel was in prison for anti-Batista activity in 1955 when Mirta--whose family was pro-Batista--divorced him and took Fidelito to Long Island, N.Y. Four years later, father and son were reunited during Fidel's triumphant entry into Havana.

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