Fidel Castro Alejandro Ruz (born August 13, 1926) is the former Head of State of Cuba for nearly 50 years, and a leader of the Cuban Revolution. Fidel Castro, as he is widely known, was the Prime Minister of Cuba from February 1959 to December 1976 and then President of the Council of State of Cuba until his resignation from the office in February 2008.
He was born to a rich family and acquired law degree. During studies at Havana University, he started a political career and was a recognized figure in politics. His political life continued with nationalist critiques of Fulgencio Batista, and of United States political and corporate influence in Cuba. He gained an ardent, but limited, following and also drew the attention of the authorities. He eventually led the failed 1953 attack on the Moncada Barracks, after which he was captured, tried, incarcerated and later released. He then traveled to Mexico to organize and train for an assault on Batista’s Cuba. He and his fellow revolutionaries left Mexico for the East of Cuba in December 1956.
Castro came to power as a result of the Cuban revolution that overthrew the U.S.-backed dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista, and shortly thereafter became Prime Minister of Cuba. In 1965 he became First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba and led the transformation of Cuba into a one-party socialist republic. In 1976 he became President of the Council of State as well as of the Council of Ministers. He also held the supreme military rank of Comandante en Jefe (“Commander in Chief”) of the Cuban armed forces.
Following intestinal surgery from an undisclosed digestive illness believed to have been diverticulitis, Castro transferred his responsibilities to the First Vice-President, his younger brother Raúl Castro, on July 31, 2006. On February 19, 2008, five days before his mandate was to expire, he announced he would neither seek nor accept a new term as either president or commander-in-chief. On February 24, 2008, the National Assembly elected Raúl Castro to succeed him as the President of Cuba. Fidel Castro remains First Secretary of the Communist Party.
Many describe him as a dictator and his rule has been the longest ever in modern Latin American history. Human rights organizations accuse him of creating a “repressive machinery”.