Fidel Castro

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Castro, Fidel

(Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz) (fēdĕl` käs`trō), 1926–2016, Cuban revolutionary, premier of Cuba (1959–76), president of the Council of State and of the Council of Ministers (1976–2008). As a student leader and lawyer, Castro opposed the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista y ZaldívarBatista y Zaldívar, Fulgencio
, 1901–73, president of Cuba (1940–44, 1952–59). An army sergeant, Batista took part in the overthrow of Gerardo Machado in 1933 and subsequently headed the military and student junta that ousted Carlos Manuel de
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. On July 26, 1953, he led an unsuccessful attack on an army post in Santiago de Cuba and was imprisoned. Released (1955) in a general amnesty, he went to Mexico where he organized the 26th of July movement. In Dec., 1956, he landed in SW Oriente prov. with a small group of rebels. Castro and 11 others, including his brother Raúl and Ernesto "Che" GuevaraGuevara, Che
(Ernesto Guevara) , 1928–67, Cuban revolutionary and political leader, b. Argentina. Trained as a physician at the Univ. of Buenos Aires, he took part (1952) in riots against the dictator Juan Perón in Argentina, joined agitators in Bolivia, and worked
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, survived the initial encounter and hid in the mountains of the Sierra MaestraSierra Maestra
, rugged mountain range, SE Cuba, rising abruptly from the coast. Consisting of connecting ranges with local names, the Sierra Maestra is the highest system of Cuba. It is rich in minerals, especially copper, manganese, chromium, and iron.
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. There, they organized a guerrilla campaign that eventually toppled the Batista regime on Jan. 1, 1959.

Widely hailed as a liberator, Castro proved to be a charismatic leader who was often ruthless when politically challenged. He proceeded to collectivize agriculture and to expropriate native- and foreign-owned industry. He instituted sweeping reforms in favor of the poor, disenfranchising the propertied classes, many of whom fled. In Dec., 1961, he declared himself to be a Marxist-Leninist and veered the revolution toward the Soviet Union and the socialist block, though his regime was and remained more of a personal dictatorship than a collective Communist one. Tensions with the United States steadily grew. In 1961, the United States organized an invasion of Cuban exiles at the Bay of Pigs (see Bay of Pigs InvasionBay of Pigs Invasion,
1961, an unsuccessful invasion of Cuba by Cuban exiles, supported by the U.S. government. On Apr. 17, 1961, an armed force of about 1,500 Cuban exiles landed in the Bahía de Cochinos (Bay of Pigs) on the south coast of Cuba.
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). A year later, the world came to the brink of nuclear war when the Soviet Union placed nuclear weapons capable of reaching the United States on the island (see Cuban Missile CrisisCuban Missile Crisis,
1962, major cold war confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union. In response to the Bay of Pigs Invasion and other American actions against Cuba as well as to President Kennedy's build-up in Italy and Turkey of U.S.
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). The crisis was defused following negotiations between the superpowers and the removal of the missiles. For Castro, it was a humiliating, though temporary, defeat.

Castro's goal of extending the Cuban revolution to other Latin American countries suffered a setback with the capture and death (1967) of "Che" GuevaraGuevara, Che
(Ernesto Guevara) , 1928–67, Cuban revolutionary and political leader, b. Argentina. Trained as a physician at the Univ. of Buenos Aires, he took part (1952) in riots against the dictator Juan Perón in Argentina, joined agitators in Bolivia, and worked
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 in Bolivia. The Cuban revolution nonetheless remained influential, both in Latin America and the developing world. Pro-Castro groups appeared throughout Latin America, and the SandinistaSandinistas,
members of a left-wing Nicaraguan political party, the Sandinist National Liberation Front (FSLN). The group, named for Augusto Cesar Sandino, a former insurgent leader, was formed in 1962 to oppose the regime of Anastasio Somoza Debayle.
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 revolution triumphed in Nicaragua in 1979. Later, Castro inspired Hugo ChavezChávez Frías, Hugo Rafael
, 1954–2013, Venezuelan political leader, president of Venezuela (1999–2013). Raised in poverty, he was educated at the Military Academy of Venezuela (grad. 1975).
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, who became president of Venezuela in 1999. From 1975 to 1989, he also sent troops to support the socialist government of Angola.

Castro's government improved health care and education, but it also was politically repressive and economically dependent on the Soviet Union, and many Cubans continued to live in poverty. The Cuban economy came to depend on the sugar crop and billions of dollars in Soviet aid, although Castro maintained political independence from the Soviet Union. In 1980, Castro opened the port of Mariél and encouraged dissidents (and criminals) to leave. Tens of thousands of Cubans left for the U.S. mainland on makeshift rafts and boats; most were granted political asylum by the United States.

With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Cuba entered a crisis period. Popular unrest grew in the face of extreme austerity measures. In desperate need of foreign capital, the regime opened Cuba somewhat to foreign investment, promoted tourism, and took other measures to ease the crisis, while clamping down on dissent. In mid-2006, Castro underwent surgery and stepped aside as president and party leader temporarily; his brother Raúl CastroCastro, Raúl
(Raúl Castro Ruz) , 1931–, Cuban revolutionary and government official, younger brother of Fidel Castro. A loyal supporter of his brother and a Communist, Raúl Castro joined Fidel in the unsuccessful 1953 uprising against Fulgencio Batista
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 became acting president. Castro did not resume his presidential duties before the next election, and in 2008 he declined to stand for reelection. He was not officially replaced as leader of the Cuban Communist party, however, until 2011. Although his prestige had diminished, Castro remained a symbol of social justice and revolutionary progress for many Cubans, and he continued to be influential in the Cuban government until his death.


See his memoirs (2 vol., 2012, in Spanish); his Fidel Castro: My Life: A Spoken Autobiography (with I. Ramonet, 2007, tr. 2009); M. Llerena, The Unsuspected Revolution: The Birth and Rise of Castroism (1978); P. Bourne, Fidel (1986); T. Szulc, Fidel: A Critical Portrait (1986); A. Oppenheimer, Castro's Final Hour (1992).

References in periodicals archive ?
A year ago, in Peru, I met a Castroite veteran, still a loyalist, whose face clouded over when I commented, on observing a photograph of "Che" Guevara, "we can never communicate to our children how exciting it all appeared at the beginning" In the aforementioned Los Angeles Times article, that paper's commentator, Steve Wasserman, wrote generously if somewhat hyperbolically about Padilla, calling him "Cuba's foremost poet.
Self-described guerrillas and Castroites of Peru, MRTA/Tupac Amaru, had quite a profile and many small successes with "hit and run" actions and terrorism.
Benjamin, a hard-core Castroite, who spent several years in Communist Cuba training under Fidel's watchful secret police, the DGI, was one of the street managers of the notoriously violent and tumultuous "Battle for Seattle" protests against the World Trade Organization in 1999.
Since Cubans have not been allowed to travel freely for the last 47 long years of Castroite dictatorship, very few jazz fans from the island were able to attend any of your music events around the world.
Born in the small town of Yaguajay (Las Villas Province) in 1952, the eclectic and sardonic singer/composer/arranger/guitarist/tresero/bassist Pedro Luis Ferrer moved in the 1960s with his family to Havana, where his melodic compositions and distinctive nasal delivery would attract much attention by the following decades, when his popular guaracha Inseminacion artificial (Artificial Insemination) mocked a failed Castroite program to introduce a breed of bionic cows to the Comedian-In-Chief's "workers' paradise.
Not surprisingly, this has discredited genuine free market reforms and driven many of the disenchanted and desperate into the arms of the Castroite Left.
LT: You must have played many tunes authored by Juan Almeida, the Castroite comandante described by Eladio Secades as "a frustrated Nico Saquito.
Although the son was neglected for a while in Cuba, back in the times when the Castroite regime preferred to promote the "politically correct" nueva trova practitioners, the most sublime Cuban genre was revitalized in 1976, when a young tres-playing agricultural engineer named Juan de Marcos Gonzalez and other musically inclined alumni of Havana University founded Sierra Maestra, a nonet inspired by the pioneering sounds of Ignacio Pineiro's Septeto Nacional.
In addition, she has traveled to Grenada to coordinate activities with the Castroite Politburo of that Communist regime; she has been a top official for the past decade of the Communist Party splinter faction known as the Committees of Correspondence; and she co-chairs the radical Progressive Caucus and formerly chaired the extreme-left Congressional Black Caucus.
LT: Like many other Cuban musicians throughout the world, you were eventually allowed to work abroad in an officially approved "velvet exile," as long as the Castroite regime received a significant portion of your earnings.
Hugo Chavez, Venezuela's Castroite ruler, "spoke of Mr.