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Marxist Cuban political leader Fidel Castro helped lead the Cuban Revolution, and served as president of Cuba from 1976 to 2008.
A look at the CIA's failed attempts at the assassination of Fidel Castro.
A brief look at Fidel Castro and the Cuban Missile Crisis.
CIA and a Cuban brigade planned an invasion on Castro and Cuba, but the plan quickly unravelled.
A brief history of the Cuban Revolution and the rise of Fidel Castro.
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In October 1962, his increasing reliance on Soviet aid brought the world to the brink of nuclear war. Wanting to deter another U.S. invasion of Cuba, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev conceived an idea of placing nuclear missiles in Cuba,
just 90 miles off the coast of Florida. He justified the move as a response to U.S. Jupiter missiles deployed in Turkey. An American U2 reconnaissance plane discovered the missile base construction before the missiles were installed. President Kennedy responded by demanding the removal of the missiles with orders for the U.S. Navy to search any vessels headed for the island.
Over the course of several anxious days of secret communications between Khrushchev, Kennedy and their agents, Khrushchev agreed to remove the missiles in exchange for the United States' public agreement not to invade Cuba. The Kennedy administration also agreed to secretly remove the Jupiter missiles from Turkey. Both leaders saved face and gained some admiration for restraint. Castro, on the other hand, was humiliated: Both superpowers completely left him out of the negotiations. Furthermore, the United States was able to persuade the Organization of American States to end diplomatic relations with Cuba, in response to Castro's "shameful" actions.
But Castro wasn't shamed for long. In 1965, he merged Cuba's Communist Party with his revolutionary organizations, placing himself as head of the party. Within a few years, he began a campaign of supporting armed struggle against imperialism in Latin American and African countries. In 1966, Castro founded the Asia-Africa-Latin America People's Solidarity Organization to promote revolution on three continents. In 1967, he formed the Latin America Solidarity Organization to foster revolution in select Latin-American countries.
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.
The U.S. agreement not to invade Cuba didn't preclude toppling the Castro regime in other ways. Castro was the target of CIA assassination attempts (an estimated 638 in all, according to Cuban intelligence) over the years. These ranged from exploding cigars, to a fungus-infected scuba-diving suit, to a mafia-style shooting. He took great delight in the fact that none of the attempts ever succeeded. Castro was reported as saying that if avoiding assassination attempts was an Olympic sport, he would have won gold medals.
Castro's regime has been credited with opening 10,000 new schools and increasing literacy to 98 percent. Cubans enjoy a universal health-care system, which has decreased infant mortality to 11 deaths in 1,000 (1.1 percent). But civil liberties have been whittled away, as labor unions lost the right to strike, independent newspapers were shut down and religious institutions were harassed.
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