Castro

Castro

[kas-troh; Sp. kahs-traw]
Castro, Américo, 1885-1972, Spanish philologist and literary critic, b. Brazil. After the Spanish Civil War, Castro's studies focused on how modern Spanish history was adversely affected by the shift of Spain's military and political power from Muslim to Christian forces (11th-15th cent.) and by the expulsion of the Jews in 1492.

See The Spaniards: An Introduction to their History (1948; tr. 1971); selected essays (1977).

Castro, Cipriano, 1858?-1924, president of Venezuela (1901-8). In 1899 he usurped the government, overthrowing Andrade. Called the Lion of the Andes by his followers, he was a stern and arbitrary caudillo, who nevertheless improved the country's economy. Castro's administration is notable because of the financial claims (see Venezuela Claims) made by several foreign powers and his defiance of them. He retired briefly in 1906 and was succeeded by Juan Vicente Gómez, but after having violent disagreements with Gómez, Castro again assumed power. In 1908 Castro went to Europe. Gómez immediately deposed him and took control. Castro died in exile.
Castro, Fidel (Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz), 1926-, Cuban revolutionary, premier of Cuba (1959-76), president of the Council of State and of the Council of Ministers (1976-2008). As a student leader and lawyer, Castro opposed the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista y Zaldívar. On July 26, 1953, he led an unsuccessful attack on an army post in Santiago de Cuba and was imprisoned. Released (1955) in a general amnesty, he went to Mexico where he organized the 26th of July movement. In Dec., 1956, he landed in SW Oriente prov. with a small group of rebels. Castro and 11 others, including his brother Raúl and Ernesto "Che" Guevara, survived the initial encounter and hid in the mountains of the Sierra Maestra. There, they organized a guerrilla campaign that eventually toppled the Batista regime on Jan. 1, 1959.

Widely hailed as a liberator, Castro proved to be a charismatic, though sometimes ruthless, leader. He proceeded to collectivize agriculture and to expropriate native and foreign industry. He instituted sweeping reforms in favor of the poor, disenfranchising the propertied classes, many of whom fled. In Dec., 1961, he declared himself to be a Marxist-Leninist and veered the revolution toward the Soviet Union and the socialist block. Tensions with the United States steadily grew. In 1961, the United States organized an invasion of Cuban exiles at the Bay of Pigs (see Bay of Pigs Invasion). A year later, the world came to the brink of nuclear war when the Soviet Union placed nuclear weapons capable of reaching the United States on the island (see Cuban Missile Crisis). The crisis was defused following negotiations between the superpowers and the removal of the missiles. For Castro, it was a humiliating, though temporary, defeat.

Castro's goal of extending the Cuban revolution to other Latin American countries suffered a setback with the capture and death (1967) of "Che" Guevara in Bolivia. Yet pro-Castro groups appeared throughout the region, and the Sandinista revolution triumphed in Nicaragua in 1979. From 1975 to 1989, he also sent troops to support the socialist government of Angola. In 1980, Castro opened the port of Mariél and encouraged dissidents to leave. Tens of thousands of Cubans left for the U.S. mainland on makeshift rafts and boats; most were granted political asylum by the United States.

Although Castro maintained political independence from the Soviet Union, the Cuban economy came to depend on billions of dollars in Soviet aid. With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Cuba entered a crisis period. Popular unrest grew in the face of extreme austerity measures. In desperate need of foreign capital, the regime opened Cuba somewhat to foreign investment and promoted tourism, while clamping down on dissent. In mid-2006, Castro underwent surgery and stepped aside as president temporarily; his brother Raúl Castro became acting president. Castro did not resume his presidential duties before the next election, and in 2008 he declined to stand for reelection. He retained his post as leader of the Cuban Communist party, however, and remains extremely influential in the Cuban government. Although his prestige has diminished, Castro remains a symbol of social justice and revolutionary progress for many Cubans.

See M. Llerena, The Unsuspected Revolution: The Birth and Rise of Castroism (1978); P. Bourne, Fidel (1986); T. Szulc, Fidel: A Critical Portrait (1986); A. Oppenheimer, Castro's Final Hour (1992).

Castro, Inés de, or Inez de Castro, d. 1355, Spanish noblewoman, a celebrated beauty, and a tragic figure in Portuguese history. She went (1340) to Portugal as a lady in waiting to Constance of Castile, wife of the heir to the Portuguese throne, Dom Pedro (later Peter I). He fell in love with her. Although his father, Alfonso IV, banished her from court, the prince continued to see her. After Constance died (1345), he established a household with her at Coimbra, where she bore him four children. Her brothers, however, gained political influence and aroused the opposition of Alfonso's advisers. Three of those advisers persuaded the king that Inés must be removed to preserve the legitimate succession to the throne and with his permission murdered Inés. Dom Pedro, overcome with grief and anger, led a rebellion against his father; but peace was restored, and the prince promised to forgive the murderers. When he became (1357) king, however, he extradited two of the advisers from Castile and executed them horribly; the third escaped. Peter announced that he had been secretly married to Inés and had two tombs erected at Alcobaça depicting the life story of Inés in marble. It is not true that he had her disinterred and crowned as queen, but that story was immortalized in a drama of Juan Ruiz de Alarcón y Mendoza. The romantic story of the love affair has been a favorite theme of Portuguese writers and has been much used by Spanish and other writers also. Inés's sons subsequently contested the claim of their half brother, John I, to the Portuguese throne.
Castro, Raúl (Raúl Castro Ruz), 1931-, Cuban revolutionary and government official, younger brother of Fidel Castro. A loyal supporter of his brother and a Communist, Raúl Castro joined Fidel in the unsuccessful 1953 uprising against Fulgencio Batista and was also imprisoned. Released in 1955, they went to Mexico and later returned (1956) to Cuba as guerrillas to overthrow Batista. Fidel's chief lieutenant in the revolution, Raúl became minister of the armed forces in 1959, a position he continues to hold. In 1972 he also became first deputy premier and then first vice president of the Council of State and of the Council of Ministers when the Cuban government was reorganized in 1976. He became Cuba's acting president in 2006 when Fidel Castro was forced by ill health and surgery to relinquish the presidency temporarily. When his brother retired as president in 2008, Raül was elected to the office. Under Raül a number of reforms, largely designed to increase the productivity of the Cuban economy, were introduced.
Castro, Rosalía de, 1837-85, Spanish poet and novelist. Castro's book of verse Cantares gallegos (1863) was the first important poetry in Galician since the 13th cent.; it reflected the lyrical appeal of Galician folk songs. The melancholy Follas novas (1880) was followed by the despairing verse, in Castilian, of En las orillas del Sar (1884, tr. Beside the River Sar, 1937), written while Castro was suffering with terminal cancer. Her sensitive and compassionate poetry with its metrical innovations has exerted considerable influence on modern poets.
Castro, Vaca de: see Vaca de Castro, Cristóbal.
Castro, Greece: see Kástron.

(born Aug. 13, 1926, near Birán, Cuba) Political leader of Cuba (from 1959). Son of a prosperous sugar planter, he became a lawyer and worked on behalf of the poor in Havana. He was a candidate for Cuba's legislature when Gen. Fulgencio Batista overthrew the government in 1952. He organized a rebellion against Batista in 1953, but it failed; captured, he served time in prison and then went to Mexico, where he and others, including Che Guevara, continued to plot Batista's overthrow. Castro led an armed expedition back to Cuba in 1956; most of his men were killed, but a dozen survivors took refuge in the mountains, where they gradually managed to organize guerrillas throughout the island. In 1959 Batista was forced to flee the country. Castro nationalized private commerce and industry and expropriated U.S.-owned land and businesses, vastly expanded health services and eliminated illiteracy, and ruthlessly suppressed opposition, outlawing all political groups but the Communist Party. The U.S. attempted to bring about his overthrow and failed (see Bay of Pigs invasion), precipitating the Cuban missile crisis. Castro exercised total control of the government and economy, which was increasingly dependent on subsidies from the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union's collapse (1991) devastated Cuba's economy, and Castro attempted to replace its former revenues through tourism. In 1998 Castro allowed Pope John Paul II to visit Cuba for the first time. Castro strengthened his relationship with Venezuelan Pres. Hugo Chávez in the early 21st century with an initiative through which Cuba provided health care professionals to Venezuela in exchange for discounted oil. In July 2006 Castro passed power on a provisional basis to his brother Raúl while he recovered from surgery. Fidel Castro officially stepped down as president of Cuba in 2008, ending his 49 years in power.

Learn more about Castro (Ruz), Fidel with a free trial on Britannica.com.

Castro may refer to:

People with the surname Castro:

A place:

in Chile:
*Castro, Chile, capital of Chiloé Island

in Italy:
*Castro (city), a destroyed town in the province of Viterbo (Lazio)
*Castro (LE), in the province of Lecce (Apulia)
*Castro (BG), in the province of Bergamo (Lombardy)
*Castro dei Volsci, in the province of Frosinone (Lazio)

in Spain:
*Castro Urdiales, a village in the province of Cantabria

in the US:
*The Castro, a predominantly gay neighborhood in San Francisco, California, USA
*Castro Theatre, a landmark movie theater located in the Castro community

A company:

Other

  • Castro culture, Iron-Age culture in Northern Portugal and in Galicia, Asturias and Cantabria (Northern Spain)
  • Castro (village), Cividade, and Citânia, types of settlements of the Castro culture
  • Castro (band), a cabaret-electronica band from Split, Croatia

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