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FIDEL CASTRO…  UPBRINGING -Born in Cuba 1923 -He was a rebellious boy and at the age of thirteen helped to organize a strike of sugar workers on his father's plantation. -Both his parents were illiterate but keen to ensure their children had a good education and Fidel proved to be intelligent at school -After he finished his education, he became a lawyer and often took the cases of poor people who could not afford to pay him so his was constantly short of money -In 1947 Castro joined the Cuban People's Party -1952 Fidel Castro became a candidate for Congress for the Cuban People's Party BACKGROUND - Initially studied law at the University of Havana and then became a recognized figure in politics. - Was initially a liberal nationalist wishing to rid Cuba of foreign control. - Was opposed to the president Fulgencio Batista and the United States political influence over Cuba, and in 1953 led the failed attack on the Moncada Barracks. - Was captured and later released, and left for Mexico where he organised and trained for the revolution overthrowing Batista’s government which began in December 1956, led by him and Che Guevara. - They overthrew Batista in January 1959 and Castro formed a new government. He wished to maintain his liberal nationalist standing but after pressure from the US was forced to accept Soviet aid. - Remained as Prime Minister of Cuba until 1976, then became President until his resignation in 2008. BELIEFS - His experience as a lawyer made him extremely critical of the great inequalities in wealth that existed in Cuba -Castro also resented the wealth and power of the American businessmen who appeared to control the country -In 1947 Castro joined the Cuban People's Party. He was attracted to this new party's campaign against corruption, injustice, poverty, unemployment and low wages -Castro had strong views on morality. He considered that alcohol, drugs, gambling, homosexuality and prostitution were major evils. He saw the casinos and night-clubs as sources of temptation and corruption and he passed laws closing them down. Members of the Mafia, who had been heavily involved in running these places, were forced to leave the country. -Castro believed strongly in education. Before the revolution 23.6 per cent of the Cuban population were illiterate. Castro asked young students in the cities to travel to the countryside and teach the people to read and write. Cuba adopted the slogan: "If you don't know, learn. If you know, teach." Eventually free education was made available to all citizens and illiteracy in Cuba became a thing of the past. PERSONAL QUALITIES; -Superb public speaker -Very moralistic -Private and secretive (most Cubans don’t even know the names of his family) -The Cuban media is strictly forbidden to report on his personal life; nothing at all about them has ever been published or broadcast inside Cuba INVOLVEMENT IN COLD WAR -The American Government cut off all trade in arms to Cuba after the revolution, and in 1961 the new American President John F. Kennedy supported an invasion of Cuba by anti-Castro supporters. - The Bay of Pigs invasion was intended to spark a popular uprising against Castro. - Relations deteriorated and the USA decided to cut its trade in sugar with Cuba, which would have serious consequences for the Cuban economy. Castro decided to ask the Soviet Union to purchase Cuban sugar, also applying for arms. - Allowed the USSR to place missiles in Cuba due to his allegiances with them and his opposition of the US, which directly led to the Cuban Missile Crisis. - Despite a US trade embargo, Castro’s government was able to improve the conditions of Cuba’s poorest citizens, and their education and medical facilities under Castro were among the best in the less developed world.
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