Biography of Famous Cuban Leader Fidel Castro Part 4

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

Famous and Infamous Rulers in History


As he developed social, economic, and agricultural reforms, Castro's followers and critics divided sharply into two camps: the Fidelistas and the anti-Castroites, many of whom immediately left Cuba. Anti-Castroites in the U.S. number over 1 million, and they have maintained active opposition to their country's socialist takeover for more than 20 years. At the extremes of protest are terrorist groups like Omega 7, who say they will stop at nothing to get rid of the man they call "the Trujillo of the left." Castro's supporters contend that the CIA is supporting saboteurs, guerrillas, and assassins in Cuba; they point to the Bay of Pigs invasion of April, 1961, as a prime example of U.S. imperialist meddling. Castro's success in repelling this CIA-sponsored invasion force of Cuban exiles made him even more of a hero to his supporters. Seemingly inspired by crisis, Castro capitalized on the victory with rallies and marathon speeches. In televised hearings, he personally interviewed over 1,000 of the captured invasion force. "Now be honest," he said to one prisoner, "surely you must realize that you are the first prisoner in history who has the privilege of arguing in front of the whole population ... with the head of the government which you came to overthrow." The prisoners were later returned to the U.S. in exchange for several million dollars' worth of supplies.

The U.S. restricted sugar imports in 1960, so Castro sold his sugar to the Soviets. Russian technicians and advisers began to arrive in Cuba, and the presence of Soviet nuclear weapons in Cuba precipitated the missile crisis of October, 1962--the cold war's most horrifying moment. After the Bay of Pigs, Castro announced that he was a Marxist-Leninist and therefore committed to promoting communist rule throughout Latin America, which he called a "continent where revolution is inevitable." That same year marked the beginning of food rationing in Cuba, where it remains an ongoing fact of life. Castro nationalized all business, from sugar factories to shore-shine parlors, and instituted an extensive secret police force (numbering in the tens of thousands) as well as a large military force. Organized resistance to Castro has a formidable opponent in this government-controlled network, but anti-Castroites continue to plot his overthrow.

Since 1973 the U.S. has officially declined any part in anti-Castro activities, and there has been some attempt at normalizing relations between the two countries. But such efforts have been impeded by Castro's role in African politics. Nearly 45,000 Cuban troops and advisers are in Africa, primarily in Angola and Ethiopia. In spite of Castro's dedication to worldwide socialist revolution, his own soldiers are increasingly going AWOL, and many are involved in black-market sale of military supplies. Some men are evading the draft altogether. After more than 20 years, the new Cuban economy is still unstable, dependent on one crop (sugar), and reliant on strict rationing of all consumer goods. Castro has found ways to keep his country afloat in the face of diplomatic and trade boycotts by almost all Latin American nations, but the price is high.

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