49 Facts About Fidel Castro

1. Fidel Castro took control of Cuba in 1959 at the age of 33.

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2. Fidel Castro was a good friend of the Colombian novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

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3. Fidel Castro had a deep friendship with fellow revolutionary Celia Sanchez, who accompanied him almost everywhere during the 1960s, and controlled almost all access to the leader.

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4. Fidel Castro proclaimed himself to be "a Socialist, a Marxist, and a Leninist", and publicly identified as a Marxist–Leninist from December 1961 onward.

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5. In late October 2016, Fidel Castro met with the Portuguese president Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, who became one of the last foreign leaders to meet him.

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6. In December 2014, Fidel Castro was awarded the Chinese Confucius Peace Prize for seeking peaceful solutions to his nation's conflict with the US and for his post-retirement efforts to prevent nuclear war.

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7. On 19 April 2011, Fidel Castro resigned from the Communist Party central committee, thus stepping down as party leader.

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8. On 7 August 2010, Fidel Castro gave his first speech to the National Assembly in four years, urging the US not to take military actions against those nations and warning of a nuclear holocaust.

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9. In January 2009 Fidel Castro asked Cubans not to worry about his lack of recent news columns and failing health, and not to be disturbed by his future death.

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10. In a February 2008 letter, Fidel Castro announced that he would not accept the positions of President of the Council of State and Commander in Chief at that month's National Assembly meetings, remarking, "It would betray my conscience to take up a responsibility that requires mobility and total devotion, that I am not in a physical condition to offer".

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11. Fidel Castro criticized the 2003 invasion of Iraq, saying that the US-led war had imposed an international "law of the jungle".

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12. That same year, Fidel Castro initiated Mision Milagro, a joint medical project which aimed to provide free eye operations on 300,000 individuals from each nation.

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13. Fidel Castro maintained his devout anti-apartheid beliefs, and at the 26 July celebrations in 1991, he was joined onstage by the South African political activist Nelson Mandela, recently released from prison.

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14. Fidel Castro became a proponent of the anti-globalization movement, criticizing US global hegemony and the control exerted by multinationals.

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15. In the early 1990s Fidel Castro embraced environmentalism, campaigning against global warming and the waste of natural resources, and accusing the US of being the world's primary polluter.

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16. Fidel Castro believed in the need for reform if Cuban socialism was to survive in a world now dominated by capitalist free markets.

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17. Fidel Castro hoped for a restoration of Marxism–Leninism in the USSR, but refrained from backing the 1991 coup in that country.

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18. Fidel Castro was angered by Gorbachev's approach, believing that he was abandoning the plight of the world's poor in favor of detente.

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19. Fidel Castro became passionate in his denunciation of the Third World debt problem, arguing that the Third World would never escape the debt that First World banks and governments imposed upon it.

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20. Fidel Castro supported the leftist New Jewel Movement that seized power in Grenada in 1979, befriending Grenadine President Maurice Bishop and sending doctors, teachers, and technicians to aid the country's development.

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21. Fidel Castro conceded that those who wanted to leave could do so from Mariel port.

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22. Fidel Castro extended support to Latin American revolutionary movements, namely the Sandinista National Liberation Front in its overthrow of the Nicaraguan rightist government of Anastasio Somoza Debayle in July 1979.

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23. Fidel Castro remained the dominant figure in governance, taking the presidency of the newly created Council of State and Council of Ministers, making him both head of state and head of government.

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24. Fidel Castro supported Allende's socialist reforms, but warned him of right-wing elements in Chile's military.

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25. In November 1971, Fidel Castro visited Chile, where Marxist President Salvador Allende had been elected as the head of a left-wing coalition.

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26. In April 1971, Fidel Castro was internationally condemned for ordering the arrest of dissident poet Heberto Padilla who had been arrested 20 March; Padilla was freed, but the government established the National Cultural Council to ensure that intellectuals and artists supported the administration.

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27. From this conference, Fidel Castro created the Latin American Solidarity Organization, which adopted the slogan of "The duty of a revolution is to make revolution", signifying Havana's leadership of Latin America's revolutionary movement.

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28. Fidel Castro was personally devastated when Guevara was subsequently killed by CIA-backed troops in Bolivia in October 1967 and publicly attributed it to Che's disregard for his own safety.

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29. Fidel Castro was left out of the negotiations, in which Khruschev agreed to remove the missiles in exchange for a US commitment not to invade Cuba and an understanding that the US would remove their MRBMs from Turkey and Italy.

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30. Fidel Castro urged Khrushchev to threaten a nuclear strike on the US should Cuba be attacked, but Khrushchev was desperate to avoid nuclear war.

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31. The US saw the missiles as offensive; Fidel Castro insisted they were for defense only.

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32. In March 1962 Fidel Castro removed the most prominent "Old Communists" from office, labelling them "sectarian".

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33. In December 1961, Fidel Castro admitted that he had been a Marxist–Leninist for years, and in his Second Declaration of Havana he called on Latin America to rise up in revolution.

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34. Fidel Castro ordered Captain Jose Ramon Fernandez to launch the counter-offensive, before taking personal control of it.

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35. In January 1961, Fidel Castro ordered Havana's US Embassy to reduce its 300-member staff, suspecting that many of them were spies.

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36. Fidel Castro proclaimed the new administration a direct democracy, in which Cubans could assemble at demonstrations to express their democratic will.

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37. Fidel Castro appointed himself president of the National Tourist Industry, introducing unsuccessful measures to encourage African-American tourists to visit, advertising Cuba as a tropical paradise free of racial discrimination.

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38. In May 1959, Fidel Castro signed into law the First Agrarian Reform, setting a cap for landholdings to 993 acres per owner and prohibiting foreigners from obtaining Cuban land ownership.

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39. On 16 February 1959, Fidel Castro was sworn in as Prime Minister of Cuba.

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40. Fidel Castro exercised a great deal of influence over Urrutia's regime, which was now ruling by decree.

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41. Fidel Castro was sentenced to 15 years' imprisonment in the hospital wing of the Model Prison, a relatively comfortable and modern institution on the Isla de Pinos.

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42. Fidel Castro formed a group called "The Movement" which operated along a clandestine cell system, publishing underground newspaper El Acusador, while arming and training anti-Batista recruits.

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43. Fidel Castro had moved further to the left, influenced by the Marxist writings of Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, and Vladimir Lenin.

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44. In April 1948, Fidel Castro traveled to Bogota, Colombia, leading a Cuban student group sponsored by President Juan Peron's Argentine government.

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45. In June 1947, Fidel Castro learned of a planned expedition to overthrow the right-wing government of Rafael Trujillo, a US ally, in the Dominican Republic.

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46. In 1947, Fidel Castro joined the Party of the Cuban People, founded by veteran politician Eduardo Chibas.

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47. In 1945, Fidel Castro began studying law at the University of Havana.

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48. At age six, Fidel Castro was sent to live with his teacher in Santiago de Cuba, before being baptized into the Roman Catholic Church at the age of eight.

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49. Fidel Castro was born out of wedlock at his father's farm on 13 August 1926.

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