Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz (born August 13, 1926) is a Cuban communist revolutionary and politician, having held the position of Prime Minister of Cuba from 1959 to 1976, and then President from 1976 to 2008. He also served as the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba from the party's foundation in 1961 until 2011. Politically a Marxist-Leninist, under his administration the Republic of Cuba was converted into a one-party socialist state, with industry and business being nationalized under state ownership and socialist reforms implemented in all areas of society. On the international stage, he also served as the Secretary-General of the Non-Aligned Movement from 1979 to 1983 and 2006 to 2008.
Born the illegitimate son of a wealthy farmer, Castro became involved in leftist anti-imperialist politics while studying law at the University of Havana. Involving himself in armed rebellions against right-wing governments in the Dominican Republic and Colombia, he concluded that the U.S.-backed Cuban President Fulgencio Batista, who was widely seen as a dictator, had to be overthrown; to this end he led a failed armed attack on the Moncada Barracks in 1953. Imprisoned for a year, he traveled to Mexico, and with the aid of his brother Raúl Castro and friend Che Guevara, assembled a group of revolutionaries, the 26th of July Movement. Returning with them to Cuba, he took a key role in the Cuban Revolution, leading a successful guerrilla war against Batista's forces, overthrowing him in 1959. Castro subsequently became Commander in Chief of the armed forces and shortly thereafter became Prime Minister.
Fernando Arias Photography ©