Fidel Castro Ruz was born on August 13, 1926, on his family's
sugar plantation near Biran, Oriente province, Cuba. His father, originally
an immigrant laborer from Galicia, Spain, became owner of a 23,000-acre
As a boy, Castro worked in the family's sugar cane fields and at 6
years old convinced his parents to send him to school. He attended two
Jesuit institutions, the Colegio Lasalle and the Colegio Dolores, both in
Santiago. In 1942 he entered the Colegio Belen, a Jesuit preparatory
school in Havana. He was voted the school's best athlete in 1944.
In 1945 Castro attended the University of Havana's Faculty of Law, and
having earned a law degree, went into practice in 1950 in Havana with two
partners. As a lawyer he devoted himself to helping the poor.
Castro intended to campaign for a parliamentary seat in the election of
1952 but General Fulgencio Batista overthrew the government of
President Carlos Prio Socarras and canceled the election.
Castro went to court and charged the dictator with violating the
constitution. The court rejected Castro's petition. With no legal recourse
left, Castro organized an armed attack by 165 men on the Moncada
Barracks in Oriente province on July 26, 1953. That attack and the one on
Bayamo garrison failed completely. Half the attackers were killed; Castro
and his brother Raul were taken prisoner. They were released in a general
amnesty on May 15, 1955.
Castro tried unsuccessfully to oppose the military dictatorship by
peaceful means. He then went to Mexico and organized Cuban exiles into
another fighting force called the 26th of July Revolutionary Movement.
The group of 82 men launched an attack on the north coast of Oriente
province on December 2, 1956. Again, the attempt met defeat; only 12 of
the original attackers survived. Nevertheless, the 12 retreated to the Sierra
Maestra mountains and from their mountain stronghold waged continuous
guerrilla warfare against the Batista government. His movement grew to
800 men, and scored victory after victory. A defeated Batista fled the
country on New Year's Day 1959, and Castro's force made a victorious
entry into Havana.
The United States recognized the new government on January 7,
1959. Castro assumed the position of...