Fidel Castro: Life of the Cuban Leader

Born August 13th, 1926 in Biran, Cuba, Fidel Castro became interested in politics while attending university. Outraged at the the social and economic inequalities in the country, he sought to oust General Batista through the Cuban Revolution. Castro then took power into his own hands, adopting many communist policies along with his Marxist-Leninist beliefs. Problems and tensions continued however and ultimately forced him to make some concessions. He resigned in the late 2000s. In this video, takes a look at the life and rule of Fidel Castro.

You must login to access this feature



Fidel Alejandro Castro Cruz was born August 13th, 1926 near Biran, Cuba to a wealthy sugarcane farmer and a member of his household staff.

Interest in Politics

As a University of Havana law student in the 1940s, Castro became interested in politics. He started to believe in anti-imperialism and that American influence harmed the Cuban government. After witnessing violence against student protesters, Castro began advocating for social justice and joined the socialist organization Partido Ortodoxo.


While publicly critiquing Cuba’s social and economic inequalities, Castro revealed his particularly leftist point-of-view. He soon aligned himself with Marxist ideas, including the theory that only a working-class revolution would incite political change. After graduation, Castro campaigned for a Cuban parliamentary seat; however, those elections were cancelled when General Fulgencio Batista staged a military coup in 1952 and seized power.


Many Cubans considered Batista’s regime a dictatorship, and Castro unsuccessfully attempted to legally remove him. In 1953, he and several dissidents attacked the Moncada military barracks as part of a group called The Movement. This botched attempt resulted in Castro’s arrest and a 15-year prison sentence, but it also exposed the ruthless methods of Batista’s army and government to other Cubans.

The 26th of July Movement

While imprisoned, Castro developed what became known as the 26th of July Movement with fellow jailed supporters and outside activists. In 1955, he and the other prisoners were released in a politically-based amnesty.

Che Guevara

Shortly thereafter, Castro met Argentine Marxist revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevara in Mexico, and he joined the cause. In 1956, they returned to Cuba with a group of armed radicals. Though most were executed or taken prisoner, Castro, his brother Raúl, Guevara and a few others eluded Batista’s guards.

Cuban Revolution

The survivors convened at the Sierra Maestra mountain range, and spent two years building a rebel army. Castro and his forces then executed guerilla attacks on Batista’s men. The Cuban Revolution grew across the country, as did international disapproval of Batista’s regime. Bastista resigned at the end of 1958 and Castro was considered a hero upon his return to Havana. On February 16th, 1959, Castro was sworn in as prime minister of Cuba.

Castro as Prime Minister

Castro then initiated several radical policies: in addition to land reforms and the nationalization of American businesses and private plantations, he also strengthened ties with the Soviet Union. These actions eventually compelled the U.S. to end diplomatic relations and to impose a trade embargo against Cuba.

Bay of Pigs and Communism

In 1961, the United States unsuccessfully attempted to remove Castro from power with the Bay of Pigs Invasion. That same year, Castro pronounced his Marxist-Leninist beliefs and announced Cuba would implement communist policies.

Cuban Missile Crisis

1962’s Cuban Missile Crisis almost resulted in nuclear war. To resolve the situation, the U.S. promised to avoid future Cuban invasions and to withdraw its missiles from Turkey if the USSR removed its weapons from Cuba. Despite this agreement, the CIA attempted to assassinate Castro multiple times throughout his leadership.

Communist Party Rule

Over the next years, Castro took control of Cuba’s Communist Party and promoted anti-imperialism and revolutionary action in various Latin American nations. Despite providing benefits like free healthcare and education, Castro’s regime repressed opposition of his one-party rule and limited civil liberties.


In 1976, Castro became president of Cuba’s Council of State. Throughout the next decade, he championed the communist cause by sending troops to assorted third-world conflicts. However, Cuba lost a major source of funding in 1991 after the Soviet Union’s collapse. Castro tried to limit the economic impact by relaxing restrictions, promoting tourism and encouraging outside investment. He even legalized the U.S. dollar.

Hurricane Michelle

In the aftermath of 2001’s Hurricane Michelle, Castro accepted United States aid. Nevertheless, Cubans continued showing their dissatisfaction with Castro’s regime by protesting or leaving the country.


Soon after, Castro’s health deteriorated. He stepped down as president in 2008 and resigned as secretary-general of the Communist Party in 2011. His brother Raúl replaced him in both roles.


Some call him a dictator and an abuser of human rights, while others label him a socialist icon who champions the poor. Either way, Fidel Castro was one of the most controversial leaders in Latin American history.

You must register to a corporate account to download. Please login

Related Videos

+ see more