Biography of Famous Cuban Leader Fidel Castro Part 2

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

Famous and Infamous Rulers in History


Castro's own father died in 1956. The event seemed to produce no emotion in Castro, who commented only that his father had "played politics for money." During the revolution in 1959, the Castro family plantation was nationalized. This outraged Fidel's mother, who objected loudly and was considered something of a counterrevolutionary for several years. The events of 1959 split the family dramatically. While Fidel's younger sister Juanita went into exile as a vehement anti-Castroite, brothers Raul and Ramon became his strongest allies. Raul Castro remains second-in-command of the Cuban government and is clearly slated for leadership should anything happen to Fidel. Castro has warned his ideological enemies against assassinating him because Raul would succeed him, and "he's more radical than I am."

Castro's mother died in 1965, and since that time the Cuban press has not mentioned any news of his family or personal affairs. There have always been gossip and speculation about attractive women in his life. He had been briefly engaged to a young Cuban woman in Mexico in 1956, but preparations for the overthrow of Batista apparently preempted her. In 1962 Cuban exile newspapers announced his marriage to Isabel Coto. The most enduring speculations have centered on Celia Sanchez, a comrade from the early days. Known until her death in 1980 as Fidel's "constant companion," she held the positions of Secretary of the Central Committee and Secretary of the Council of State and was the most powerful woman in Cuba.

Castro has described himself as "naturally disorderly." He prefers cultivating his image of tireless leader and liberator to bothering with elegant dress and fancy residences. His habit of dropping cigar butts wherever he pleases does not seem to be offensive to colleagues and guests who are invited to the several residences he maintains around Havana. The houses are furnished comfortably but with complete disregard for conventional standards of cleanliness and taste. A fleet of vintage Oldsmobiles and military jeeps is always at Castro's disposal, and he keeps on the move, preferring to come and go without fanfare or public knowledge.

Castro's boundless energy and appetites have become his trademark: 12-hour speeches on public television, impromptu midnight bull sessions with students, gargantuan dinners, the ever-present cigars, marathon domino tournaments, endless baseball games. All vividly attest to his determination to infuse every act with the revolutionary spirit. At an exclusive country-club golf course that had been nationalized, Castro commented: "Now if Kennedy and Eisenhower would like to discuss some problems with us over a game of golf, I'm sure we'll win. We just have to practice a few days, that's all."

Rise to Power: Beginning with the attack on Batista's Moncada Barracks in 1953, Castro alone has created the history--and the mythology--of his movement. That attack, his first attempt to depose Batista, was a fiasco, an almost perfect disaster; about half of the rebels were captured, tortured, and murdered. Castro turned the brutality used in suppressing the attack to his political advantage, and Moncada came to stand as an eloquent symbol of the regime's oppression. On trial, Castro conducted his own four-hour defense, concluding with the now famous words, "Condemn me. It does not matter. History will absolve me."

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