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Fidel Castro Ruz

Cuban President Raul Castro announced on 26 November 2016 that former Cuban President Fidel Castro had died at the age of 90.

Former Cuban President Fidel Castro returned to the main political stage on 19 April 2016, a decade after an intestinal disease took him from power. Castro, 89, appeared before the plenary session of the 7th Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC). He pronounced a statement that also sounded like a farewell to the Congress. “Soon I should turn 90,” said the former president, who was greeted with standing ovations and cheers of “Fidel, Fidel” by the more than 1,000 delegates and guests. Fidel said, “Our turn will come to all of us,” and added, “Perhaps this will be of the last times I will speak in this hall”. Fidel Castro expressed his confidence in the legacy of the Cuban communists during his speech. The former president said he voted for “all candidates” of the more than 100 members of the new Central Committee and 17 members of the Politburo presented. The ideas of the Cuban communists will remain as proof that, on this planet, if people work with fervor and dignity, they can produce material and cultural goods that humans need and we must fight relentlessly to obtain them, he said. Fidel Castro said that the meaning word 'communist' had been the most distorted and maligned concept of history by those who had the privilege of exploiting the poor.

The Communist leader was born Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz on the 13 August 1926 in Birán, an eastern province of Cuba. He was born into a wealthy landowning family. Growing up in a predominantly Catholic nation, Castro received a Jesuit education. After graduating from high school in 1945, he graduated from Havana University as a lawyer.

In 1945 he was actively involved with student political fights at the University of Havana. After two years, he grew spirited about the lack of social justice in the Cuba. As a result, Castro joined the Partido Ortodoxos which had been newly formed by Eduardo Chibás, a mentor of Castro. In 1947 he joined the organized expedition to fight against the rule of Rafael Leónidas Trujillo Molina, also know as the "trujillista" in the Dominican Republic. In April of 1948, he participated in the popular insurrection in Bogotá Colombia, disturbing anti-American literature and partook in violent clashes throughout the city. As a result of his rhetoric and violence he was wanted by Colombian authorities. Castro sought cover, and found it at the Cuban Embassy in Bogotá.

Though well educated and raised in a well-to-do family, he was shaken by the contrast between his own comfortable lifestyle and the poverty of so many around him. He thus devoted his life to the Marxist-Leninist school and became a revolutionary. He graduated from law school in 1950 and began practicing law in Havana, where he attempted to represent the poor and underprivileged throughout Havana and Cuba. This prompted him to enter as a candidate for the Cuban parliament. Despite his aspirations to enter parliament, they were soon dashed when General Fulgencio Batista led a bloodless coup d'état in 1952, over throwing President Carlos Prío Socarrás. Batista seized power in a bloodless coup three months before the election was to take place, suspended the balloting, and began ruling by decree.

Fidel Castro, who was running for a seat in the Chamber of Representatives, circulated a petition to depose Batista's government on the grounds that it had illegitimately suspended the electoral process. On 26 July 1953 Castro led a failed attack on the Moncada (one of Batista's largest garrison) army barracks near Santiago de Cuba. Castro and other surviving members of his group managed to escape to a part of the rugged Sierra Maestra Mountains east of Santiago where they were eventually discovered and captured. Castro and other members were jailed and subsequently went into exile in Mexico. While in Mexico, Castro organized the 26th of July Movement with the goal of overthrowing Batista, and the group sailed to Cuba on board the yatch Granma landing in the eastern part of the Cuba in December 1956. Shortly after the arrival most of Castro's men were killed, arrested or they dispersed throughout various regions in southeastern Cuba, particularly the Sierra Maestra Mountains. Castro, with the aid of his brother Raúl Castro and the famous revolutionary Che Guevara, among others, staged guerrilla warfare against the Batista government and troops, directed from their hide-outs in the mountains.

Batista's dictatorial rule fueled increasing popular discontent and the rise of active urban resistance groups, a fertile political environment for Castro's 26th of July Movement. Faced with a corrupt and ineffective military itself dispirited by a U.S. Government embargo on weapons sales to Cuba and public indignation and revulsion at his brutality toward opponents, Batista fled.

When Batista and his closest allies escaped to the Dominican Republic in the early hours ofJanuary 1, 1959, power lay in the streets. Of the several groups that fought the Batista regime, the Twenty-Sixth ofJuly Movement had an almost undisputed claim to fill the vacuum left by the dictator. Castro's charisma and his revolutionary prestige made him, in the eyes of the Cuban people, the logical occupant of Batista's vacant chair; he was the man of the hour, the new messiah. The other insurrectionary organizations lacked the mystique, the widespread support, and the organized cadres of Castro's movement.

Castro had unquestionable qualities of leadership. Endowed with an extraordinary gift of oratory and an exceptional memory, he would speak extemporaneously for hours. Like Marti had done years earlier, Castro lectured the Cubans on the evils of their society and the need for profound and rapid changes. The overwhelming majority of the Cubans accepted his leadership enthusiastically. The atmosphere of gloom that had prevailed during the Batista era was now converted into euphoria and hope for the future. Even those who had failed to participate in the anti-Batista struggle ferventlyjoined the revolutionary ranks with a feeling of guilt for their past behavior.

Within months of taking control, Castro moved to consolidate power by marginalizing other resistance figures and imprisoning or executing opponents. As the revolution became more radical, hundreds of thousands of Cubans fled the island. Castro declared Cuba a socialist state on April 16, 1961. For the next 30 years, Castro pursued close relations with the Soviet Union until the demise of the U.S.S.R. in 1991. Relations between the U.S. and Cuba deteriorated rapidly as the Cuban regime expropriated U.S. properties and moved towards adoption of a one-party Communist system. In response, the United States imposed an embargo on Cuba in October 1960, and broke diplomatic relations on January 3, 1961. Tensions between the two governments peaked during the Bay of Pigs Invasion of April 1961 and the October 1962 missile crisis.

Castro was quoted as saying that "There is not Communism or Marxism, but representative democracy and social justice in a well-planned economy." He believed that his ideology was first and foremost Cuban, and could not be branded anything other than such.

On 17 April 1961, the US attempted to topple the Castro government by recruiting a private army of Cuban exiles to invade the island. There were approximately 1,400 members of the CIA-trained Cuban exile force that landed at the Bay of Pigs. Of that 1400, approximately 1000 were captured or killed.

Later that year, in a nationally broadcast speech on December 2, 1961, Castro declared that Cuba was adopting Communism. Futhermore, on February 7, 1962, the US imposed an embargo against Cuba.

Though an embargo was enacted in early 1962 which raised tensions, relations got much worse later that year. In the fall of 1962, a US - U2 reconnaissance plane discovered Soviet missiles on their way to sites in Cuba. To make matters worse, in a personal letter to Khrushchev dated 27 October 1962, Castro pressed him to launch a first strike nuclear attack against U.S. if Cuba were invaded. Though an invasion never materialized, fortunately for the world if that invasion did occur, Khrushchev rejected any first strike response against the U.S. Eventually the situation difused and the Soviets withdrew the the missiles from Cuba, in exchange for a secret withdrawal of US weapons from Turkey.

As a result of the incident, Fidel Castro had become America's worst enemy. The embargo was expanded and assassination attempts against Castro, were conducted and supported by the CIA many times. Since the embargo was strictly enforced in the U.S., with the help of other aligned nations, the Soviet Union transfered vast sums of money into Cuba. The Soviets purchased large amounts of the island's sugar harvest and in exchange for desperately needed goods

Things began to change in the 1980's. Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev began cutting trade with Castro. As a result the Cuban economy went into a steady decline and many fled Cuba and went to the U.S., literally by the boat load. Even though the country had been hurt economically, he had been able to hold on to power. He was both beloved and despised throughout his nation, usually impressing the later because the country and himself had survived, despite great pressure from the US. Additionally, a lightly bound 'socialist club' united Castro with the Venezuelan President, Hugo Chavez. Both leaders were known for their ranting anti-American rhetoric.

The Cuban leader was notorious for his insistence on personally controlling even minute details of programs in policy areas that interest him. During the two years he spent waging his own insurgency against the Batista regime, for example, Castro was known to have a running account of the exact number of bullets his guerrillas had in stock. Later he drove audiences into stupefaction by reciting for hours myriads of statistics and technical details about such subjects as artificial insemination, sugar cane genetics, and soil chemistry. In the 1980s, among many other topics, he endlessly lectured audiences about arcane medical procedures and health trivia, perhaps growing preoccupation with his own mortality and declining vigor.

The regime announced on 31 July 2006 that Fidel Castro was too ill to lead the country and that Raul Castro would be "temporarily" in charge. By January 2007 Fidel Castro appeared very weakened and cachectic, and it was reported publicly that he lost 20 kilograms in just six weeks from his 28 July 2006 emergency abdominal surgery due to hemorrhaging. His 28 October 2006 appearance, in a five-minute video, showed him in an over-sized jogging suit and walking two-three steps as if he were a marionette swinging his arms robot-style to somehow show strength. But it was so obviously overstated as to almost be comical. Although his diagnosis is a "state secret," it appeared that he was terminally ill -- having lost over ten percent of his body weight in such a short time and not being strong enough to walk. Some observers believed that Fidel Castro's non-appearance at 02 December 2006 anniversary events commemorating 50 years of the rebel army and 80 years of his life was the best indicator that he was probably near death.

On 1 August, 2006 an announcement was made that Fidel had temporary ceded power to his brother, Raúl after the Cuban leader suffered from health issues which arose from strain while traveling abroad. On 12 September 2006 Cuban Economy Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez announced that Cuba would not follow the Chinese model of communism, opening itself up to private business. "In the hypothetical case that Commandante Fidel remains ill would there be a change in Cuban policy toward a market opening? I can categorically say that is not foreseen, the Cuban people do not want that..."

Castro replaced his brother Fidel Castro as chief of state, president of Cuba, and commander-in-chief of the armed forces on February 24, 2008. The first Communist Party Congress (CPC) since 1997 was held in April 2011, where Raul Castro was officially named first secretary of the Communist Party. Castro made his last public appearance on January 8, 2014 when he participated in a gallery opening for a longtime friend, Cuban artist Alexis ‘Kcho’ Leyva, also in the capital.

Former Cuban President Fidel Castro made his first public appearance for more than a year in early 2015. The 88 year-old met a Venezuelan delegation which had traveled to the island. Pictures showed Castro shaking supporter’s hands through the window of a vehicle. Castro made the appearance on 30 March 2015; however, it was only reported by Cuban state media on 04 April. It was the first time that the former Cuban president has been officially seen in public in 14 months.

The announcement of Fidel's death would probably not alter the local security situation in any significant way. Government officials would most likely manage the death announcement and subsequent funeral arrangements, etc., in great detail with a view towards putting the best face on the situation, both domestically and to the world. Utmost care will be given to ensuring that the Cuban public understands that Raul and the rest of the government remain in firm control. The event will be treated with appropriate solemnity, but also designed to achieve maximum propaganda value. It is probable that no announcement will be made until the GOC feels confident that all preparations have been made in accordance with the preceding.

The announcement of Fidel's death would probably not spark either violent demonstrations or a quick surge in migration. The security arrangements and the Cuban people's generally conservative nature after 50 years of repression, combined with still significant admiration for Fidel personally, argue against short term disturbances. Far from generating a surge in migration, the announcement of his death could cause a drop in such activity as Cubans wait to see if Fidel's passing brings any change to the island.

Cuba's aging revolutionary Fidel Castro signaled his continued resistance to smoother relations with the United States, telling Washington, "We do not need the empire to give us any presents." The 89-year-old Castro stayed out sight during US President Barack Obama's March 2016 visit to Cuba, the first by a sitting American leader in nine decades. In a piece titled "Brother Obama," Fidel Castro quoted Obama's declaration that "it is time, now, for us to leave the past behind." But the man who seized power in Cuba in 1959 and ruled it for decades, said, "I imagine that any one of us ran the risk of having a heart attack on hearing these words from the president of the United States."

Fidel seemed irked by the renewed business ties, saying, "No one should pretend that the people of this noble and selfless country will renounce its glory and its rights. We are capable of producing the food and material wealth that we need with work and intelligence of our people."

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