Who Was Fidel Castro?

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Fidel Castro was a Cuban revolutionary and political leader who, during his tenure as Cuba's prime minister, president and commander-in-chief, orchestrated the country's transformation into a one-party socialist state. Castro formed a decades-long alliance with the Soviet Union and supported communist revolutions around the world. His policies made him a lifelong antagonist and target of the United States.

Castro was the son of a wealthy Cuban farmer. While studying law at the University of Havannah, he became involved in leftist politics and became a prominent student leader and organizer within the Socialist Party of the Cuban People.

Castro went on to work in revolutionary causes in the Dominican Republic, Colombia and Mexico. In 1959, he organized the revolution that overthrew President Fulgencia Bautista and his US-backed military junta. As prime minister and later president, Castro introduced policies that nationalized the economy and established central planning.

Castro allied Cuba with the Soviet Union, allowing the USSR to install nuclear weapons on the island. This led to the Cuban missile crisis in 1962. Castro sent weapons and troops to support communist regimes in the Yom Kippur War, the Ogaden War and the Angolan Civil War.

Despite numerous American attempts to remove Castro by means of assassination, counter-revolution and economic embargo, he continued in office until turning power over to his brother Raul Castro in 2008.