Fidel Castro; 40 Years Later (and maybe a few more)

It’s been a week since the former President of Cuba, Fidel Castro, breathed his last breath. Forty years ago today, after being Prime Minister for 17 years, Castro was sworn in as President. His life had been eventful and his effect on the world has been huge. But what exactly did he do for the world?

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Castro giving a speech (Getty Images)

When Castro was born on August 13, 1926, the world had no idea what effect this small farm boy would have on the world. He was born on the sugarcane farm that his father owned, but lived there for very little of his life. From age 6 on, Castro lived at school, attending several prestigious Jesuit-run institutions. At 19, Castro began studying law at the University of Havana. It was here that he first was interested in politics. While there, he helped with student activism and campaigned for the Federation of university students. He also joined the Party of the Cuban People. He participated in many rebellions, hoping to reveal the corruption of the government and establish reform.

When he graduated in 1950, Fidel Castro opened a law office. At its close in 1952, the political elections were being held and Castro tried to run for the presidency. His party feared that his radical reputation would backfire, and instead nominated him for the House of Representatives. During his campaign, Castro met with Fulgencio Batista, a former president and soon to be dictator. The United States backed Batista and before the elections were held, he seized control and cancelled them.

In 1953, Castro and 120 other men attacked the Moncada barracks. He was sent to prison for 15 years as a result but was released in 1955. Castro fled to Mexico where he plotted his next attack. In 1956, he and 81 other men sailed to the eastern coast of Cuba. They were ambushed by the government and few made it out. They fled to the mountains and set up a guerrilla base. From there they attacked small outposts, gaining weaponry. They gained trust from the locals. Some of them joined them.They began winning small battles. On January 1st 1959, they gained control from Batista. In February, Castro arrived in Havana and took over as prime minister.

Trying to overthrow Castro, 1400 CIA members landed in the Bay of Pigs in 1961. Most were captured. By then, Castro had declared himself a Marxist-Leninist was increasingly dependent on the Soviet Union. In 1962, nuclear missiles were stationed there, increasing a fear of World War III in the US. They were removed after negotiations with the Soviets.

Throughout the 1960’s to the 1980’s, Castro supported many countries in Latin America and Africa in their leftist guerrilla movements. When the USSR collapsed in the 1990’s, Cuba’s economy crashed. However, Castro stayed in power until 2006, when he temporarily signed it over to his brother, because of health issues. He permanently resigned in 2008, after almost 50 years of rule. Castro died on November 25, 2016.

Castro was an influential character and affected a large part of history. His revolutions will never be forgotten.

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