Fidel Castro, Cuba’s long-term “maximum leader,” has detained supremacy since 1959. He is president (since 1976; formerly prime minister), first secretary of the Cuban Communist party, and commander of the armed forces. His rulings are absolute on subjects of domestic and foreign policy. His country is one of the last supporters of communism, along with China and North Korea. Fidel Castro is one of the longest ruling leaders; 41 years in power, the age of the Cuban revolution.
An affiliate of the social-democratic Orthodoxo party in the later 1940s and 1950s, Castro was an untimely and voiced adversary of the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista. In 1952, he ran for election to the Cuban House of Representatives. But troops directed by Batista cut short the election and finished democracy in Cuba. As a result of Batista’s actions, Castro tried to start a revolution against the Batista dictatorship. It was in 1953 that Castro and over 100 contemporaries initiated their armed revolution. As with Mao Ze Dong and the Long March in China, the attack on Moncada garrison was a prodigious failure in military terms which was turned into a huge political victory. Castro’s men were almost annihilated as they sought to escape after failing to capture the garrison and Castro was put on trial. During an immense five hour speech, Castro went down into Cuban folklore by openly denouncing Batista. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison but released in 1955, after serving less than two, as Batista sought, misguidedly, to show that he was no longer any threat.
From 1956 on, Castro set up the Rebel Army in the mountains of Cuba and did his best to establish a parallel state there with a system of education and schools in the surrounding rural areas. His example stirred the long dissatisfied Cuban poor into greater and greater rebellion until Batista finally fled the country on January 1, 1959. Cuba under Castro has experienced all the typical benefits and drawbacks of left-wing revolutions. Castro has retained considerable loyalty among some sectors of Cuban society because one of the first things he did was to institute sweeping agrarian reforms which took gave land to the masses of peasants, and nationalised the hundreds of major companies in Cuba which had been foreign owned and run during the ‘international playground’ era of Batista. The Communists also set up free education and health care. He eventually succeeded on January 1, 1959 and took control of the Cuban govenment.
Castro, who has no rivals for power, demands the absolute loyalty of those around him. As a lawyer by training, Castro led the Cuban Revolution and transformed the island into the first Communist state in the Western Hemisphere. He has been less than successful as an economic policymaker: Cuba remains a poor country in debt whose livelihood depended on sugar production and Soviet economic aid — which was cut off after the demise of the Soviet Union. He nonetheless holds the system in place. His greatest accomplishment is the consolidation of the Communist regime in the Caribbean, so close to Cuba’s main antagonist. In no small measure, the Cuban Revolution is still Castro’s revolution.