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Sunday, 2 February 2014

Fidel Castro

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

Known as a rebellious, loud, and troublesome child, Fidel Castro was sent to a Jesuit boarding school in Santiago de Cuba, where he was often teased by his wealthier classmates who called him a "peasant."

Castro was voted Cuba’s best schoolboy athlete in 1944. He was a left-handed pitcher and had a trial for Washington Senators baseball team but was turned down.

Castro enrolled at the University of Havana, where he earned a law degree.

Castro married Mirta Diaz-Balart on October 11, 1948 in Banes, Cuba. They honeymooned in New York City.

Castro, Mirta and son

They had one child, a son, Fidel Ángel "Fidelito" Castro Díaz-Balart, who was born on September 1, 1949

He co-founded a legal partnership that primarily catered for poor Cubans, Castro failed to pay his bills; his furniture was repossessed and electricity cut off, distressing his wife.

Castro and Mirta Diaz-Balart divorced (while Castro was in exile) in 1955.

He lived with Celia Sanchez, an upper-class Cuban woman and devoted guerrilla leader for almost 30 years. Sanchez, the love of Castro's life, was also the only one who could disagree with him. Her death from cancer in 1980 was said to hurt him very hard.

Fidel Castro and his brother Raúl led a group of approximately 160 rebels on July 23, 1953 in an unsuccessful attack on the Moncada Barracks, thus beginning the Cuban Revolution.

On February 16, 1959 Fidel Castro, wearing army fatigues, was sworn in as prime minister of Cuba after dictator Fulgencio Batista fled the island. He accepted the position on the condition that the Prime Minister’s powers be increased.

Fidel Castro - MATS Terminal Washington 1959

Castro holds the record for the longest speech ever delivered at the United Nations: 4 hours and 29 minutes, on September 29, 1960.

In a nationally broadcast speech on December 2, 1961, Fidel Castro declared that he has been a Marxist–Leninist for years and that Cuba was going to adopt Communism.

Fidel Castro was excommunicated by Pope John XXIII on January 3, 1962 following the expulsion of large numbers of priests from Cuba.

Fidel Castro had a strange dairy obsession, and would craft elaborate schemes such as a "race of super cows" and tiny cows to keep as house pets. He even bred a cow that produced over 100 liters of milk in a day.

Following intestinal surgery in 2006, Fidel Castro provisionally transferred the duties of the Cuban presidency to his brother Raúl.

In a February 2008 letter, 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 because of the decline in his physical condition. On February 24, 2008, the National Assembly of People's Power unanimously voted Raúl as president.

Castro in front of a Havana statue of Cuban national hero José Martí in 2003. CC BY 3.0 br, Wikipedia Commons

Castro resigned from the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba on April 19, 2011 after 50 years of holding the title of First Secretary.

Fidel Castro survived 638 assassination attempts, sprawling over the decades. They included some bizarre efforts, which included a toxic cigar and exploding mollusks. There was even a plot to make his beard fall off to lower his popularity.

Fidel Castro died in Santiago de Cuba aged 90 at 22:29 [EST] on November 25, 2016.  The longest-serving non-royal head of state in the 20th and 21st centuries, the Marxist revolutionary had governed the Republic of Cuba for 47 years as Prime Minister from 1959 -1976 and then as President from 1976 -2006.

Before his death, Fidel Castro's last wish was to avoid being a "personality cult"; because of this, Cuba prohibits the use of Castro's name in the names of "institutions, parks, streets and other public places, as well as any honorary titles or medals."

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