Fidel Castro

Communist Leader of Cuba

Essential Question

  • Why was Castro considered such a threat to the US and the Western Hemisphere?

Early Life

  • Born on August 13 1926 in Mayari, Cuba. He was the son of a wealthy spanish planter.

  • He was educated by the Jesuits and studied law at the university of Havana

  • He was active in the Latin American revolutionary politics throughout his youth.

  • When he began practicing law in 1950, he specialized in public-interest law and often represented the poor free of charge.

  • He was a candidate for the parliament in 1952, representing the orthodox party that wanted to reduce government corruption and and pursue social reform.
  • He was well educated in world politics including American practices

Taking Control

  • After being released from prison after 19 months, Castro went to Mexico and met Ernesto Guevara.

  • They organized a plan to overthrow the Cuban leader, Batista. They used guerilla warfare alongside a boatload of insurgents.

  • In 1958, they conducted a series of successful military campaigns to throughout Cuba to capture and hold key areas of the country.

  • Batista’s government fell from Castro’s efforts and he fled to the Dominican Republic in January, 1959.

  • In February 1959, Castro was sworn in as the Prime Minister of Cuba.

Communism and Leadership

  • Castro repeatedly denied being a Communist but his policies looked extremely similar to the Soviet-style control of economy and government to Americans. Cuba had become the only Communist Country in the western hemisphere.

  • By the end of 1959, Castro's revolution had become radicalized, with purges of military leaders and the suppression of any media critical of Castro's policies.

  • Castro was able to capitalize on the Cuban Missile Crisis to consolidate his power and further promote his agenda. On May 1, he announced an end to democratic elections in Cuba and denounced American imperialism. Then at year's end, Castro declared himself a Marxist-Leninist and announced the Cuban government was adopting Communist economic and political policies. This directly went against US policy that stated that if communism were to spread to the western hemisphere, the US would protect it at all cost. However the US was afraid to attack directly because of the alliance with Russia Cuba had.

  • In the 1970s, Castro promoted himself as the leading spokesperson for Third World countries by providing military support to pro-Soviet forces in Angola, Ethiopia and Yemen. Though Cuba was heavily subsidized by the Soviet government, those expeditions ultimately proved unsuccessful and put a strain on the Cuban economy.


  • Through out the rule of Castro he made friends with many world leaders opposite of the US.
  • The greatest was Nikita Kruschev in Russia, which was made obvious during the Cuban Missile Crisis, Moammar Kadhafi in Libya and he supported against the United States during the Vietnam War.