Fidel Castro, president of Cuba from 1976 to 2008, is born

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Fidel Castro

Saturday, 13 August 1927

Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz, was born into a wealthy family in Cuba. He attended Catholic schools before pursuing a law degree at the University of Havanna, where he also began his political career. In 1953, he led a failed attack on Moncada Barracks in Cuba. This resulted in his capture and arrest. On his release, he went into exile in Mexico, but returned to Cuba in 1959 and staged the Cuban Revolution. The Baptiste regime, backed by the United States, was overthrown and Castro became the prime minister of Cuba. The United States broke all ties with Cuba and proceeded to launch the Bay of Pigs invasion in an attempt to restore a US-backed government. With the failure of this attack, Cuba declared itself a communist state.

Tensions between Cuba and the United States continued to escalate, particularly with Cuba's economic and military reliance on the Soviet Union. The United States imposed a full embargo on Cuba and responded with alarm at its launch of nuclear missiles in 1962. Nuclear war was avoided as Cuba agreed to dismantle the missiles, but strained relations continued between Cuba and the United States during the remainder of the Cold War.

Cuba's foreign relations with pro-Marxist governments, particularly the newly-independent African states, were characterised by the supply of military and communist aid. In 1975, Fidel Castro deployed troops, as well as economic aid, to Angola in support of the Marxist-led MPLA against the South African and US-backed UNITA. On the role that Castro played in the Angolan civil war, Nelson Mandela remarked that "Cuban internationalists have done so much for African independence, freedom, and justice."

Since 1998, speculation that Castro might be suffering from ill health began. In 2006, Fidel Castro delegated his duties as leader of Cuba to his brother Raul Castro and officially retired from office in 2008.

Castro's role in supporting liberation struggles on the African continent served to encourage the fight against apartheid in South Africa.

*Please note that some sources are claiming that he was born in 1927*

    References:
    • Wallis, F. (2000). Nuusdagboek: feite en fratse oor 1000 jaar, Kaapstad: Human & Roussea
    • Spartacus Educational,Fidel Castro,[online],Avaliable at www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk [Accessed:16 August 2013]
    • Rosenberg, J.,Fidel Gastro:A Biography of Fedel Castro, from about.com Guide [online],Avaliable at history1900s.about.com [Accessed: 16 August 2013]

    Last updated : 19-Aug-2013

    This article was produced for South African History Online on 16-Mar-2011