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I began revolution with 82 men. If I had to do it again, I do it with 10 or 15 and absolute faith. It does not matter how small you are if you have faith and plan of action. 1959

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Feb 04, 2023

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Random Person of the Day: Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz

Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz

Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz

Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz (born August 13, 1926) is the current President of Cuba, though due to illness, his duties have been transferred to his younger brother, Raúl Modesto Castro Ruz.

Castro led the revolution overthrowing Fulgencio Batista in 1959. Shortly thereafter, Castro was sworn in as the Prime Minister of Cuba. Castro became First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba in 1965, and led the transformation of Cuba into a one-party socialist republic. In 1976 he became president of the Council of State as well as of the Council of Ministers. He also holds the supreme military rank of Comandante en Jefe ("Commander in Chief") of the Cuban armed forces.

Castro first attracted attention in Cuban political life through nationalist critiques of Batista and the United States political and corporate influence in Cuba. He gained an ardent, but limited, following and also drew the attention of the authorities. He eventually led the failed 1953 attack on the Moncada Barracks, after which he was captured, tried, incarcerated and later released. He then travelled to Mexico to organize and train for the guerrilla invasion of Cuba that took place in December 1956.

Since his assumption of power in 1959 he has evoked both praise and condemnation (at home and internationally). Opponents characterize Castro as a dictator, claiming that he has not risen to power through open, public elections, and some contend that his rule is illegitimate because the socialist system itself was not established through what they considered to be legal means. Supporters, on the other hand, see Castro as a charismatic leader whose presidential authority has been acquired through legitimate elections.

Outside of Cuba, Castro has been defined by his relationship with the United States and the former Soviet Union, both of whom courted Cuban attentions as part of their own global political agenda. While Cuba's relations with countries of the Soviet bloc were generally cordial during the Cold War, the Castro-led government has had an antagonistic relationship with the United States since the failed Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in 1961 by U.S.-backed forces.

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union and Cuba's one major Latin American ally, Nicaragua, in the early 1990s, the Cuba government found itself in a precarious spot. However, in recent years, Castro has found new regional allies in Latin America. Regional Socialist and nationalist figures such as Hugo Chávez in Venezuela and Evo Morales in Bolivia have been ready allies. According to Paul Reynolds of the BBC, Fidel is a world icon, and is the current Secretary-General of the Non-Aligned Movement (his second term in that office, the first having been 1979-1983).

At home, Fidel Castro has overseen the implementation of various economic policies, leading to the rapid centralization of Cuba's economy, land reform, collectivization and mechanization of agriculture, and the expropriation of leading Cuban industries. Opponents, claim that these changes have had disastrous consequences and transformed Cuba into a third-world nation , as Cuba's GDP has failed to keep up with countries that were in a similar position during the 1950s despite the generous subsidies of the Soviet Union until the 1990s. Conversely, supporters attribute the U.S. embargo for some or all of Cuba's shortcomings, but maintain that Cuba's economy has expanded and grown at a more than acceptable rate since the revolution. In 2006, the Cuban government reported that Cuba achieved 12.5% growth, which included trade and social services as part of GDP estimation; an unusual practice. Excluding those categories, which is the more conventional practice, economic growth is estimated to be at 9.5%.

The expansion of publicly funded health care and education has been a cornerstone of Castro's domestic political program. Cuba ranks better than many countries on the United Nations' list of countries by infant mortality rate, which is claimed by Castro's supporters as a success of his government. Opponents claim that Cuba's health care and infant mortality were the same if not better before the revolution and question the truthfulness of statistics concerning Cuba, despite its republication by the United Nations, World Health Organization, and Central Intelligence Agency, due to the fact that most of this data is collected, or assisted in the collection, by the Cuban government.

Under Castro, particularly after the onset of the Special Period created by the collapse of the Soviet Union, Cuba has experienced a severe housing shortage and a decline in the quality of its public works.

Moreover, opponents claim that there has been a significant decline in the average caloric intake since the Revolution came to power. Due to the lack of low-priced oil from the U.S.S.R., Cuba under Castro has rapidly been converting agriculture away from Soviet-style high mechanization towards "greener" methods of organic farming and urban agriculture in an effort to increase domestic consumption.

On July 31, 2006, Castro, after undergoing intestinal surgery for diverticulitis, transferred his responsibilities to the First Vice-President, his younger brother Raúl Castro. On June 2, 2007, Castro appeared on Cuban Television with Vietnamese Communist Party Leader Nong Duc Manh looking somewhat healthier.

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