Fidel Castro, former president of Cuba was an enigma. He could possibly be the longest serving president before he handed over power to his brother Raul in 2008.
Here are some interesting facts about him
- Fidel was born in August 13 1926. His dad was a wealthy sugarcane farmer but his mother was an unmarried domestic worker in his father’s house.
- Fidel ruled Cuba for a record 49 years from 1959 when he overthrew Dictator Fulgencio Batista up to 2008 when he handed over power to his brother Raul Castro.
- He started his revolutionary campaign to overthrow Batista’s government with only 2 guns and less than 100 men in 1957.
- The former Cuban leader has survived the most assassination attempts in history. The CIA alone made 638 attempts on him. At one time, the CIA even tried giving him a powder that would make his beard fall and thus lose his influence.
- In 1960, he took over and nationalized all US businesses in Cuba without compensation. This marked the beginning of frosty relations with the US which only thawed in 2015 when diplomatic relations between the two countries were re-established.
- In 1961, CIA trained Cuban exiles attacked Cuba but failed with more than a hundred dead. The others were captured and were later released in 1962 in exchange for medical supplies and baby food worth over 52 million US dollars.
- Fidel Castro has gone into Guinness Book of records for making the longest speech. On 26th September 1960, he made a speech at the UN that was 4 hours, 29 minutes long. But the icing on the cake was on 24th February 1998 after he was re-elected president of Cuba. He made a speech that lasted for 7 hours, 30 minutes.
Fidel Castro’s Achievements
Fidel Castro was a man who could be described as a benevolent Dictator. Although he did a lot that did not augur well with his people, he also did a lot to improve the living standards of Cubans.
- Immediately he took over power, Fidel Castro embarked on a program to make sure that electricity reached the rural areas thus opening up the interior. This is something his predecessor had failed to do.
- Fidel also abolished racial discrimination which had been legal previously.
- The new president’s greatest achievement was providing full employment to Cubans. In addition, he introduced a Work-Study program where one could work for half a day and study the next half.
- Advanced medical health care became a reality with Fidel. Healthy centers were established in the rural areas offering free health care and mandatory free vaccination for all children.
- Salaries were equalized in the new regime and rent for poor people cut by half.
- A new land policy was introduced in Cuba by Fidel Castro. Foreigners could not buy land in Cuba and no one could own more than 993 acres.
That was Fidel Castro. The man who passed away today 26th November 2016 at the ripe age of 90.