Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz was a Cuban revolutionary and politician who was the leader of Cuba from 1959 to 2008, serving as the prime minister of Cuba from 1959 to 1976 and president from 1976 to 2008.
210 Facts About Fidel Castro
Abroad, Fidel Castro supported anti-imperialist revolutionary groups, backing the establishment of Marxist governments in Chile, Nicaragua, and Grenada, as well as sending troops to aid allies in the Yom Kippur, Ogaden, and Angolan Civil War.
In 2006, Fidel Castro transferred his responsibilities to Vice President Raul Fidel Castro, who was elected to the presidency by the National Assembly in 2008.
Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz was born out of wedlock at his father's farm on 13 August 1926.
Fidel Castro had become financially successful by growing sugarcane at Las Manacas farm in Biran, then in Oriente Province.
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.
In 1942, Fidel Castro transferred to the Jesuit-run El Colegio de Belen in Havana.
In 1945, Fidel Castro began studying law at the University of Havana.
Fidel Castro became critical of the corruption and violence of President Ramon Grau's government, delivering a public speech on the subject in November 1946 that received coverage on the front page of several newspapers.
In 1947, Fidel Castro joined the Party of the Cuban People, founded by veteran politician Eduardo Chibas.
Student violence escalated after Grau employed gang leaders as police officers, and Fidel Castro soon received a death threat urging him to leave the university.
In later years, anti-Fidel Castro dissidents accused him of committing gang-related assassinations at the time, but these accusations remain unproven.
The American historian John Lewis Gaddis wrote that Fidel Castro "began his career as a revolutionary with no ideology at all: he was a student politician turned street fighter turned guerrilla, a voracious reader, an interminable speaker, and a pretty good baseball player".
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.
The protests, accompanied by a crackdown on those considered communists, led to violent clashes between activists and police in February 1948, in which Fidel Castro was badly beaten.
Fidel Castro joined the Liberal cause by stealing guns from a police station, but subsequent police investigations concluded that he had not been involved in any killings.
Fidel Castro had moved further to the left, influenced by the Marxist writings of Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, and Vladimir Lenin.
Fidel Castro came to interpret Cuba's problems as an integral part of capitalist society, or the "dictatorship of the bourgeoisie", rather than the failings of corrupt politicians, and adopted the Marxist view that meaningful political change could only be brought about by proletariat revolution.
Fidel Castro co-founded a legal partnership that primarily catered to poor Cubans, although it proved a financial failure.
Fidel Castro took part in a high school protest in Cienfuegos in November 1950, fighting with police to protest the Education Ministry's ban on student associations; he was arrested and charged for violent conduct, but the magistrate dismissed the charges.
Fidel Castro was instead nominated as a candidate for the House of Representatives by party members in Havana's poorest districts, and began campaigning.
Intent on opposing Batista, Fidel Castro brought several legal cases against the government, but these came to nothing, and Fidel Castro began thinking of alternate ways to oust the regime.
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.
Fidel Castro stockpiled weapons for a planned attack on the Moncada Barracks, a military garrison outside Santiago de Cuba, Oriente.
Fidel Castro's plan emulated those of the 19th-century Cuban independence fighters who had raided Spanish barracks; Fidel Castro saw himself as the heir to independence leader Jose Marti.
Fidel Castro gathered 165 revolutionaries for the mission, ordering his troops not to cause bloodshed unless they met armed resistance.
The trial embarrassed the army by revealing that they had tortured suspects, after which they tried unsuccessfully to prevent Fidel Castro from testifying any further, claiming he was too ill.
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.
Fidel Castro read widely, enjoying the works of Marx, Lenin, and Marti but reading books by Freud, Kant, Shakespeare, Munthe, Maugham, and Dostoyevsky, analysing them within a Marxist framework.
Fidel Castro liked him, later describing him as "a more advanced revolutionary than I was".
Fidel Castro associated with the Spaniard Alberto Bayo, who agreed to teach Fidel Castro's rebels the necessary skills in guerrilla warfare.
Fidel Castro accepted the offer, but he had an immediate need for guns and ammunition, so Sturgis became a gunrunner.
Fidel Castro's guerrillas increased their attacks on military outposts, forcing the government to withdraw from the Sierra Maestra region, and by spring 1958, the rebels controlled a hospital, schools, a printing press, slaughterhouse, land-mine factory and a cigar-making factory.
The US instructed Cantillo to oust Batista due to fears in Washington that Fidel Castro was a socialist, which were exacerbated by the association between nationalist and communist movements in Latin America and the links between the Cold War and decolonization.
General Cantillo secretly agreed to a ceasefire with Fidel Castro, promising that Batista would be tried as a war criminal; however, Batista was warned, and fled into exile with over US$300 million on 31 December 1958.
Furious, Fidel Castro ended the ceasefire, and ordered Cantillo's arrest by sympathetic figures in the army.
Fidel Castro exercised a great deal of influence over Urrutia's regime, which was now ruling by decree.
Fidel Castro ensured that the government implemented policies to cut corruption and fight illiteracy and that it attempted to remove Batistanos from positions of power by dismissing Congress and barring all those elected in the rigged elections of 1954 and 1958 from future office.
Fidel Castro then pushed Urrutia to issue a temporary ban on political parties; he repeatedly said that they would eventually hold multiparty elections.
Fidel Castro was infuriated that the government had left thousands unemployed by closing down casinos and brothels.
On 16 February 1959, Fidel Castro was sworn in as Prime Minister of Cuba.
Fidel Castro is either incredibly naive about Communism or under Communist discipline-my guess is the former.
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.
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.
Judges and politicians had their pay reduced while low-level civil servants saw theirs raised, and in March 1959, Fidel Castro declared rents for those who paid less than $100 a month halved.
Fidel Castro seized property previously held by wealthy Cubans who had fled.
Fidel Castro nationalized sugar production and oil refinement, over the objection of foreign investors who owned stakes in these commodities.
Over 500,000 Fidel Castro-supporters surrounded the Presidential Palace demanding Urrutia's resignation, which he submitted.
Fidel Castro's government emphasised social projects to improve Cuba's standard of living, often to the detriment of economic development.
Fidel Castro used radio and television to develop a "dialogue with the people", posing questions and making provocative statements.
Fidel Castro's regime remained popular with workers, peasants, and students, who constituted the majority of the country's population, while opposition came primarily from the middle class; thousands of doctors, engineers and other professionals emigrated to Florida in the US, causing an economic brain drain.
Fidel Castro's government arrested hundreds of counter-revolutionaries, many of whom were subjected to solitary confinement, rough treatment, and threatening behaviour.
Militant anti-Fidel Castro groups, funded by exiles, the CIA, and the Dominican government, undertook armed attacks and set up guerrilla bases in Cuba's mountains, leading to the six-year Escambray Rebellion.
The ship carried weapons purchased from Belgium, and the cause of the explosion was never determined, but Fidel Castro publicly insinuated that the US government was guilty of sabotage.
In September 1960, Fidel Castro flew to New York City for the General Assembly of the United Nations.
Fidel Castro met Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, with the two publicly condemning the poverty and racism faced by Americans in areas like Harlem.
Fidel Castro delivered the longest speech ever held before the United Nations General Assembly, speaking for four and a half hours in a speech mostly given over to denouncing American policies towards Latin America.
Fidel Castro proclaimed the new administration a direct democracy, in which Cubans could assemble at demonstrations to express their democratic will.
In January 1961, Fidel Castro ordered Havana's US Embassy to reduce its 300-member staff, suspecting that many of them were spies.
Fidel Castro ordered Captain Jose Ramon Fernandez to launch the counter-offensive, before taking personal control of it.
Fidel Castro's victory reverberated around the world, especially in Latin America, but it increased internal opposition primarily among the middle-class Cubans who had been detained in the run-up to the invasion.
Castro sent Fidelito for a Moscow schooling, Soviet technicians arrived on the island, and Castro was awarded the Lenin Peace Prize.
In March 1962 Fidel Castro removed the most prominent "Old Communists" from office, labelling them "sectarian".
The US saw the missiles as offensive; Fidel Castro insisted they were for defence only.
Fidel Castro urged that Khrushchev should launch a nuclear strike on the US if Cuba were invaded, but Khrushchev was desperate to avoid nuclear war.
Fidel Castro was left out of the negotiations, in which Khrushchev 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.
Fidel Castro presented these demands to U Thant, visiting Secretary-General of the United Nations, but the US ignored them.
In turn Fidel Castro refused to allow the UN's inspection team into Cuba.
In May 1963, Fidel Castro visited the USSR at Khrushchev's personal invitation, touring 14 cities, addressing a Red Square rally, and being awarded both the Order of Lenin and an honorary doctorate from Moscow State University.
Fidel Castro returned to Cuba with new ideas; inspired by Soviet newspaper Pravda, he amalgamated Hoy and Revolucion into a new daily, Granma, and oversaw large investment into Cuban sport that resulted in an increased international sporting reputation.
In January 1964, Castro returned to Moscow, officially to sign a new five-year sugar trade agreement, but to discuss the ramifications of the assassination of John F Kennedy.
Fidel Castro was deeply concerned by the assassination, believing that a far-right conspiracy was behind it but that the Cubans would be blamed.
The greatest threat presented by Fidel Castro's Cuba is as an example to other Latin American states which are beset by poverty, corruption, feudalism, and plutocratic exploitation.
Fidel Castro supported Che Guevara's "Andean project", an unsuccessful plan to set up a guerrilla movement in the highlands of Bolivia, Peru and Argentina.
Fidel Castro allowed revolutionary groups from around the world, from the Viet Cong to the Black Panthers, to train in Cuba.
Fidel Castro considered Western-dominated Africa to be ripe for revolution, and sent troops and medics to aid Ahmed Ben Bella's socialist regime in Algeria during the Sand War.
Fidel Castro allied with Alphonse Massamba-Debat's socialist government in Congo-Brazzaville.
In 1965, Fidel Castro authorized Che Guevara to travel to Congo-Kinshasa to train revolutionaries against the Western-backed government.
Fidel Castro was personally devastated when Guevara was killed by CIA-backed troops in Bolivia in October 1967 and publicly attributed it to Guevara's disregard for his own safety.
In 1966, Fidel Castro staged a Tri-Continental Conference of Africa, Asia and Latin America in Havana, further establishing himself as a significant player on the world stage.
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.
Fidel Castro's increasing role on the world stage strained his relationship with the USSR, now under the leadership of Leonid Brezhnev.
Fidel Castro publicly celebrated his administration's 10th anniversary in January 1969; in his celebratory speech he warned of sugar rations, reflecting the nation's economic problems.
When that year's production quota was not met, Fidel Castro offered to resign during a public speech, but assembled crowds insisted he remain.
Under US pressure, the hostages were released, and Fidel Castro welcomed them back as heroes.
In November 1971, Fidel Castro visited Chile, where Marxist President Salvador Allende had been elected as the head of a left-wing coalition.
Fidel Castro supported Allende's socialist reforms, but warned him of right-wing elements in Chile's military.
Fidel Castro then went on a seven-week tour visiting leftist allies: Algeria, Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, East Germany, Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union, where he was given further awards.
Various NAM members were critical of Fidel Castro's attendance, claiming that Cuba was aligned to the Warsaw Pact and therefore should not be at the conference.
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.
Fidel Castro considered Africa to be "the weakest link in the imperialist chain", and at the request of Agostinho Neto he ordered 230 military advisers into Angola in November 1975 to aid Neto's Marxist MPLA in the Angolan Civil War.
The decision to intervene in Angola has been a controversial one, all the more so as Fidel Castro's critics have charged that it was not his decision at all, contending that the Soviets ordered him to do so.
Fidel Castro always maintained that he took the decision to launch Operation Carlota himself in response to an appeal from Neto and that the Soviets were in fact opposed to Cuban intervention in Angola, which took place over their opposition.
In 1977, the Ogaden War broke out over the disputed Ogaden region as Somalia invaded Ethiopia; although a former ally of Somali President Siad Barre, Fidel Castro had warned him against such action, and Cuba sided with Mengistu Haile Mariam's Marxist government of Ethiopia.
Fidel Castro sent troops under the command of General Arnaldo Ochoa to aid the overwhelmed Ethiopian army.
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.
Fidel Castro's critics accused the government of wasting Cuban lives in these military endeavours; the anti-Fidel Castro Center for a Free Cuba has claimed that an estimated 14,000 Cubans were killed in foreign Cuban military actions.
In 1979, the Conference of the Non-Aligned Movement was held in Havana, where Fidel Castro was selected as NAM president, a position he held until 1982.
Fidel Castro's speech was greeted with much applause from other world leaders, though his standing in NAM was damaged by Cuba's refusal to condemn the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan.
Fidel Castro conceded that those who wanted to leave could do so from Mariel port.
In what was known as the Mariel boatlift, hundreds of boats arrived from the US, leading to a mass exodus of 120,000; Fidel Castro's government took advantage of the situation by loading criminals, the mentally ill, and homosexuals onto the boats destined for Florida.
Reagan's administration adopted a hard-line approach against Fidel Castro, making its desire to overthrow his regime clear.
In late 1981, Fidel Castro publicly accused the US of biological warfare against Cuba by orchestrating a dengue fever epidemic.
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.
When Bishop was executed in a Soviet-backed coup by hard-line Marxist Bernard Coard in October 1983, Fidel Castro condemned the killing but cautiously retained support for Grenada's government.
Cuban soldiers died in the conflict, with Fidel Castro denouncing the invasion and comparing the US to Nazi Germany.
Fidel Castro feared a US invasion of Nicaragua and sent Ochoa to train the governing Sandinistas in guerrilla warfare, but received little support from the USSR.
On medical advice given him in October 1985, Fidel Castro gave up regularly smoking Cuban cigars, helping to set an example for the rest of the populace.
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.
Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos successfully appealed for more Cuban troops, with Fidel Castro later admitting that he devoted more time to Angola than to the domestic situation, believing that a victory would lead to the collapse of apartheid.
Cuban propaganda turned the siege of Cuito Cuanavle into a decisive victory that changed the course of African history and Fidel Castro awarded 82 soldiers medals of the newly created Medal of Merit for the Defense of Cuito Cuanavle on 1 April 1988.
Fidel Castro was angered by Gorbachev's approach, believing that he was abandoning the plight of the world's poor in favour of detente.
Fidel Castro admitted that Cuba faced the worst situation short of open war, and that the country might have to resort to subsistence farming.
Yeltsin despised Fidel Castro and developed links with the Miami-based Cuban American National Foundation.
Fidel Castro welcomed Western politicians and investors to Cuba, befriended Manuel Fraga and took a particular interest in Margaret Thatcher's policies in the UK, believing that Cuban socialism could learn from her emphasis on low taxation and personal initiative.
Fidel Castro ceased support for foreign militants, refrained from praising FARC on a 1994 visit to Colombia and called for a negotiated settlement between the Zapatistas and Mexican government in 1995.
In 1991, Havana hosted the Pan American Games, which involved construction of a stadium and accommodation for the athletes; Fidel Castro admitted that it was an expensive error, but it was a success for Cuba's government.
Support for Fidel Castro remained strong, and although there were small anti-government demonstrations, the Cuban opposition rejected the exile community's calls for an armed uprising.
Fidel Castro believed in the need for reform if Cuban socialism was to survive in a world now dominated by capitalist free markets.
The arrival of thousands of Mexican and Spanish tourists led to increasing numbers of Cubans turning to prostitution; officially illegal, Fidel Castro refrained from cracking down on prostitution in Cuba, fearing a political backlash.
Fidel Castro became a proponent of the anti-globalization movement, criticizing US global hegemony and the control exerted by multinationals.
Fidel Castro maintained his strong stance against apartheid, and at the 26 July celebrations in 1991, he was joined onstage by Nelson Mandela, recently released from prison.
Fidel Castro later attended Mandela's inauguration as President of South Africa in 1994.
In 2001, Fidel Castro attended the Conference Against Racism in South Africa at which he lectured on the global spread of racial stereotypes through US film.
Some economic problems remained; in 2004, Fidel Castro shut down 118 factories, including steel plants, sugar mills and paper processors to compensate for a critical shortage of fuel.
In September 2005, Fidel Castro established a group of medical professionals, known as the Henry Reeve Brigade, with the mission of international medical solidarity.
Fidel Castro had been calling for greater Caribbean integration since the late 1990s, saying that only strengthened cooperation between Caribbean countries would prevent their domination by rich nations in a global economy.
Fidel Castro's improving relations across Latin America were accompanied by continuing animosity towards the US.
However, after massive damage caused by Hurricane Michelle in 2001, Fidel Castro successfully proposed a one-time cash purchase of food from the US while declining its government's offer of humanitarian aid.
Fidel Castro expressed solidarity with the US following the 2001 September 11 attacks, condemning Al-Qaeda and offering Cuban airports for the emergency diversion of any US planes.
Fidel Castro recognized that the attacks would make US foreign policy more aggressive, which he believed was counter-productive.
Fidel Castro criticized the 2003 invasion of Iraq, saying that the US-led war had imposed an international "law of the jungle".
Fidel Castro was the first Canadian government leader to visit the island since Pierre Trudeau was in Havana in 1976.
Fidel Castro underwent surgery for intestinal bleeding, and on 31 July 2006, delegated his presidential duties to Raul Fidel Castro.
In February 2007, Raul announced that Fidel Castro's health was improving and that he was taking part in important issues of government.
Later that month, Fidel Castro called into Hugo Chavez's radio show Alo Presidente.
Fidel Castro continued to interact with the Cuban people, published an opinion column titled "Reflections" in Granma, used a Twitter account, and gave occasional public lectures.
Fidel Castro continued meeting foreign leaders and dignitaries, and that month photographs were released of Castro's meeting with Argentine President Cristina Fernandez.
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.
On 19 April 2011, Fidel Castro resigned from the Communist Party central committee, thus stepping down as First Secretary.
In March 2011, Fidel Castro condemned the NATO-led military intervention in Libya.
Later that year it was revealed that along with Hugo Chavez, Fidel Castro had played a significant behind-the-scenes role in orchestrating peace talks between the Colombian government and the far left FARC guerrilla movement to end the conflict which had raged since 1964.
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.
Fidel Castro did not meet with US President Barack Obama on the latter's visit to Cuba in March 2016, although sent him a letter stating that Cuba "has no need of gifts from the empire".
In September 2016, Fidel Castro was visited at his Havana home by the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, and later that month was visited by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
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.
Fidel Castro died in Havana on the night of 25 November 2016.
Fidel Castro's government was nationalistic, with Fidel Castro declaring, "We are not only Marxist-Leninists, but nationalists and patriots".
Historian Richard Gott remarked that one of the keys to Fidel Castro's success was his ability to use the "twin themes of socialism and nationalism" and keep them "endlessly in play".
Fidel Castro described Karl Marx and Cuban nationalist Jose Marti as his main political influences, although Gott believed that Marti ultimately remained more important than Marx in Fidel Castro's politics.
Fidel Castro described Marti's political ideas as "a philosophy of independence and an exceptional humanistic philosophy", and his supporters and apologists repeatedly claimed that there were great similarities between the two figures.
Fidel Castro drew inspiration from the wider Latin American anti-imperialist movements of the 1930s and 1940s, including Argentina's Peron and Guatemala's Jacobo Arbenz.
Fidel Castro took a relatively socially conservative stance on many issues, opposing drug use, gambling, and prostitution, which he viewed as moral evils.
Fidel Castro despises any system in which one class or group of people lives much better than another.
Fidel Castro was convinced that he was right, and that his system was for the good of the people.
Fidel Castro described Castro as "Nothing ordinary about him at all, he is unique, special, and different".
Fidel Castro profiled him as an egocentric who loved being the center of attention, and with his almost electric charisma, grabbing the attention of the people around him.
Fidel Castro was extremely manipulative; with his formidable intelligence, he was capable of manipulating a person or a group of people without much difficulty.
In private though, Fidel Castro was actually skilled at keeping his anger in check and not allowing it to affect his judgement, simply becoming cold and withdrawn; Sanchez stated that in 17 years he had only seen Fidel Castro explode in anger twice, one upon being informed of his daughter Alina's defection in 1993.
Fidel Castro preferred to meet foreign diplomats in these early hours, believing that they would be tired and he could gain the upper hand in negotiations.
Fidel Castro liked to meet with ordinary citizens, both in Cuba and abroad, but took a particularly paternal attitude toward Cubans, treating them as if "they were a part of his own giant family".
British historian Alex von Tunzelmann commented that "though ruthless, [Fidel Castro] was a patriot, a man with a profound sense that it was his mission to save the Cuban people".
Balfour described Fidel Castro as having a "voracity for knowledge" and "elephantine memory" that allowed him to speak for hours on a variety of different subjects.
Fidel Castro's hero was Alexander the Great, whose Spanish equivalent Alejandro he adopted as his nom de guerre.
Fidel Castro was a voracious reader; amongst his favourite authors were Ernest Hemingway, Franz Kafka, William Shakespeare, and Maxim Gorky, and he named For Whom the Bell Tolls as his favourite book, committing several portions of the novel to memory and even utilizing some of its lessons as a guerrilla fighter.
Fidel Castro enjoyed art and photography and was known as a patron of both within Cuba but was uninterested in music and disliked dancing.
Fidel Castro was an avid fan of cinema, particularly Soviet films.
Fidel Castro had a lifelong passion, almost obsession, with cows and, starting in 1966, with bovine genetics and breeding.
Fidel Castro was promoted into a national celebrity and propaganda tool, and when the cow died in 1985, Granma published an official obituary for her on the front page, and the postal service issued stamps in her honour as well.
Fidel Castro promoted the idea that Jesus Christ was a communist, citing the feeding of the 5,000 and the story of Jesus and the rich young man as evidence.
Fidel Castro was often nicknamed "El Caballo", a label attributed to Cuban entertainer Benny More which alludes to Fidel Castro's well known philandering during the 1950s and early 1960s.
In private Fidel Castro hated such idolization campaigns and believed that he had intellectual ascendancy over leaders who engaged in such behaviour, such as his friend Kim Il Sung of North Korea whose cult of personality he considered excessive, outlandish and unreasonable.
Fidel Castro gave no importance to his appearance or clothing; for 37 years, he wore only his trademark olive-green military fatigues or the standard MINFAR dress uniform for formal events and special occasions, emphasizing his role as the perpetual revolutionary, but in the mid-1990s began wearing dark civilian suits and guayabera in public.
Until his uprising against Batista, Fidel Castro typically kept a pencil-thin moustache along with combed back hair, typical of upper-class Cuban men in the 1950s but grew out both during his years as a guerrilla fighter and retaining them afterwards.
Fidel Castro disliked worrying about his appearance and hated shaving, making the beard and uniform all the more convenient for him.
Fidel Castro's uniform was kept simple, he never wore any medals or decorations and his only marker of rank was the Comandante El Jefe insignia stitched on the shoulder straps.
Fidel Castro's personal weapon of choice was a 7.62 Kalashnikov AKM which Castro occasionally carried with him during the 1960s but was later kept stored in a suitcase carried by one of the members of his escort or kept placed between his feet while driving along with five cartridges; he frequently used it during shooting exercises and practice.
Fidel Castro had a lifelong love of guns and was considered an expert sharpshooter, impressing foreign visitors and even holding up against members of his own elite bodyguards who engaged in frequent competition with him.
Fidel Castro claimed that he quit around 1985 during an anti-smoking campaign promoted by the Communist Party.
Sanchez disputes this, saying that his doctor had Fidel Castro reduce his cigar usage starting in 1980 and quit entirely in 1983 after a cancerous ulcer was found in his intestine.
Fidel Castro had two homes in Matanzas, one in Ciego de Avila, a horse ranch Hacienda San Cayetano in Camaguey along with another house in a vacation compound for the Politburo nearby, Casa Guardalavaca in Holguin, and two residences in Santiago de Cuba.
Fidel Castro came upon the island by accident while reviewing the region in the aftermath of the failed Bay of Pigs invasion.
Fidel Castro arrived here from his inaccessible private marina located near the Bay of Pigs, La Caleta del Rosario, which housed another residence and guesthouse.
Fidel Castro utilized two yachts, Aquarama I, confiscated from a Batista Government official and later in the 1970s, the 90-foot white hull Aquarama II.
Fidel Castro had a keen interest in gastronomy and was known to wander into his kitchen to discuss cookery with his chefs.
Fidel Castro's diet was quintessentially Cuban, based on traditional pescatarian cuisine but the additional influence from his native Galicia.
Fidel Castro's lunches were frugal and consisted of fish or seafood soup with fresh produce.
Until 1979, Fidel Castro's primary vehicle was a black ZiL limousine, first an armoured convertible ZIL-111 from Khrushchev, a ZIL-114 and briefly a ZIL-4104 gifted to him by Leonid Brezhnev, while his escort would accompany him in several Alfa Romeo 1750s and 2000s.
Subsequently, Fidel Castro ordered two mechanics from his bodyguard unit to West Germany to purchase several second-hand Mercedes-Benz 500's to replace the obsolete Alfa Romeos.
Fidel Castro always travelled with at least fourteen guards and four of his aides, spread out over four vehicles; three Mercedes-Benz's and one Soviet Lada which trailed the main convoy.
Whereas Fidel Castro was "charismatic, energetic, visionary but extremely impulsive and totally disorganized", Raul was described as a "natural, methodical, and uncompromising organizer".
Fidel Castro spoke nearly every day with Raul, met several times a week, and was a frequent visitor at Raul and Vilma's house; Vilma was considered close to Fidel Castro and often appeared in public with him at national events.
Besides Raul, Fidel Castro was not close to any of his other siblings, although he did have friendly relations with his elder brother Ramon and sister Angelita.
Fidel Castro's sister Juanita Castro has been living in the United States since the early 1960s, and is a public opponent of the Cuban regime.
Castro provided a large apartment for Celia on 11th Street near Vedado, El Once whom Fidel visited every day before returning home.
Fidel Castro even provided bodyguards from his own escort to Celia for her own protection.
Fidel Castro's security was provided by Department 1 of the Personal Security Directorate of MININT.
Fidel Castro spent most of his time under their protection and were usually his companions in his personal interests.
The members of the Escort Fidel Castro was closest to was the former Mayor of Havana Jose "Pepin" Naranjo who became his official aide until his death in 1995 and his own personal physician, Eugenio Selman.
Outside of his escort, Fidel Castro was close to Manuel "Barbarroja" Pineiro, the head of the American Department of the DGI, Antonio Nunez Jimenez, and the Colombian novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
Fidel Castro was described as a poor father; often absent from their lives, he had little interest in the activities of his children and was more interested in his work.
Fidel Castro's personal needs for absolute control seems to have changed little over the years.
Fidel Castro wants to increase people's standard of living, the availability of material goods, and to import the latest technology.
The Fidel Castro government relied heavily on its appeals to nationalistic sentiment, in particular the widespread hostility to the US government.
Balfour noted that throughout Latin America, Fidel Castro served as "a symbol of defiance against the continued economic and cultural imperialism of the United States".
Fidel Castro publicly rejected the "dictator" label, stating that he constitutionally held less power than most heads of state and insisting that his regime allowed for greater democratic involvement in policy making than Western liberal democracies.
Nevertheless, critics claim that Fidel Castro wielded significant unofficial influence aside from his official duties.
Fidel Castro defended his government's record on human rights, stating that the state was forced to limit the freedoms of individuals and imprison those involved in counter-revolutionary activities in order to protect the rights of the collective populace, such as the right to employment, education, and health care.
Historian and journalist Richard Gott considered Fidel Castro to be "one of the most extraordinary political figures of the twentieth century", commenting that he had become a "world hero in the mould" of Giuseppe Garibaldi to people throughout the developing world for his anti-imperialist efforts.
Fidel Castro was awarded a wide variety of awards and honours from foreign governments and was cited as an inspiration for foreign leaders like Ahmed Ben Bella and Nelson Mandela, who subsequently awarded him South Africa's highest civilian award for foreigners, the Order of Good Hope.