Fidel Castro Biography and Books

The Life of a Hispanic Dictator

Name: Fidel Alejandro Ruz Castro.
Birth date: August 13, 1926.
Birthplace: The old Biran, Province of Oriente Cuba.
Breakthrough: Becoming prime minister of Cuba on February 16, 1959 at age 32.

If you want to learn about famous Hispanic dictators in Latin America, you surely want to read a Fidel Castro biography.

Castro has always been an intriguing figure to me. Mostly because of the numerous complains I have heard from Cuban immigrants in the U.S. against Cuba’s government.

Fidel was until 2008 the dictator of Cuba. But, who is this political figure that reigned in the island of Cuba for five decades? He is a lawyer, a politician, and one of the main leaders that overthrew the revolutionary government of Fulgencio Batista in 1958.

Castro was indeed gifted with a rare quality of survival instinct. Beginning in 1959 until he stepped down in 2008, he became either prime minister or president of Cuba, and was the longest serving leader in the modern world.

Castro’s father, Angel Castro, was an immigrant from Spain and became a successful businessman in the sugar industry.

Castro’s mother was a cook and a servant of his father’s first wife, Maria Luisa Argota. Angel divorced her and married Fidel’s mother Lina Luz Gonzales when Fidel was 15 years old.

Castro was born on his father’s sugar plantation in Biran, which is now part of the modern-day Holguin Province. His father legally recognized him and changed his surname from his mother’s middle name Luz to Castro, when he was 17 years old.

On most of Fidel Castro’s biographies, he was described as a student with above average intellect who was more interested in playing baseball than studying his lessons.

Mostly attending private boarding schools, he graduated at the Jesuit-run El Colegio de Belén in 1945. On the same year, he entered University of Havana Law School, and his interest in politics was born.

Any Fidel Castro biography shows his passion for social reform, which became intense as well as his involvement in university politics.

When student body election was tainted with violent disputes, Castro was implicated a couple of times with numerous murders but was never prosecuted.

In 1947, he was attracted to the message of honest government and political reform of presidential candidate Eduardo Chibas and joined his political party, Partido Ortodoxo.

Chibas ran and lost the elections but Fidel remained loyal to his cause until he died in 1952 after shooting himself.

In 1948, Castro married a young student from a wealthy Cuban family, Mirta Díaz Balart. Mirta’s father gave them an expensive 3-month honeymoon vacation in New York.

While in America, Fidel thought of entering Columbia University but went back to Cuba instead. In Cuba he finished his law degree in 1950, and joined a law firm in Havana shortly after graduation.

During these times, Castro became well-known for his passionate nationalist views, and his vocal opposition against the United States.

In 1952, he planned to run for a parliament seat but the election was cancelled after General Fulgencio Batista ousted Carlos Prio Socarrás through a military coup d’etat.

Fidel Castro was outraged over the coup. He abandoned his law practice and organized underground movements to oust Batista.

To gather enough guns and ammunition, his group of about 135 individuals attacked Moncada Barracks on the 26th of July 1953. The operation failed and almost half of the group was killed.

The surviving members including Castro, managed to escape to Sierra Maestra but Fidel was later captured and sentenced to 15 years of jail.

In one Fidel Castro biography I learnt that during his defense trial, he declared his political views and expressed his rebellious nature through his famous “History will absolve me” speech. The speech was published by Editorial de Ciencias Sociales, La Habana, Cuba, in 1975.

Under extreme political pressure, Batista declared general amnesty on political prisoners, and Castro was released in 1955. A big mistake that Batista regretted later.

Fidel went to Mexico and formed the 26th of July Movement with other Cuban exiles with the purpose of overthrowing Batista.

On December 2, 1956, the group went back to Cuba but Batista’s forces again trounced them down. Only about twenty out of 82 men managed to escape to Sierra Maestra, including Castro.

From his remote headquarters in Sierra Maestra, Castro successfully directed series of guerilla attacks until Batista fled to the Dominican Republic on the early morning of January 1st 1959.

On February 16, 1959, Fidel Castro at age 32 was sworn in as the Prime Minister of Cuba. Soon after he seized power, the famous Hispanic dictator established close ties with the Soviet Union and adopted Communism on February 7, 1962.

Castro was at the center of international controversy most of the time, especially after he allowed Soviet missiles to be deployed on Cuban soil. That action almost brought the world into a third world war.

Despite constant life threats and accusations of human rights violations, Castro was the undisputed leader of Cuba for nearly five decades.

After a persisting rumor of his failing health, Castro, 80 years old announced that he would not aspire nor accept the positions of commander-in-chief and president of Cuba.

On the 24th of February 2008, the rule of Fidel Castro formally ended and the National Assembly unanimously chose his brother Raul Castro as his successor.

Fidel Castro Biography – Fidel Castro Books

Lately I have found that one of the best ways to learn about a subject is through audible books. They are convenient and inexpensive. Here are some books that offer you a good Fidel Castro biography and the possible future of Cuba.

My top recommendation of a good Fidel Castro biography is Fidel Castro: A Spoken Biography by Ignacio Ramonet. It is a comprehensive book that talks about Castro’s life from childhood and pre-revolutionary life until today. You hear Castro’s own version of the facts.

Another interesting book is After Fidel: The Inside Story of Castro’s Regime and Cuba’s Next Leader. In this book the author offers a view of the next possible Cuba. It is well narrated and very well written.

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