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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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Castro removed opposition to his rule though executions and imprisonments, as well as through forced emigration.
Hundreds of thousands of Cubans have fled Castro's rule, many settling just across the Florida Straits in Miami. The largest of these occurred in 1980, when Castro opened up the port of Mariel to allow exiled Cubans living in Miami to come claim their relatives. Castro also loaded the ships with Cuban prison inmates, mental patients and other social undesirables. In all,
nearly 120,000 Cubans left their homeland in 1980 to find sanctuary in the United States.
After the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union sent Cuba's economy into a tailspin, Castro's revolution began to lose momentum. Without cheap oil imports and an eager Soviet market for Cuban sugar and a few other goods, Cuban unemployment and inflation grew. The contraction of the Cuban economy resulted in 85 percent of its markets disappearing.
Yet Castro has been very adept, in recent years, at keeping control of the government during dire economic times. He pressed the United States to lift the economic embargo, but it refused. Castro then adopted a quasi-free market economy and encouraged international investment. He legalized the U.S. dollar and encouraged tourism. He visited the United States in 1996, and invited Cuban exiles living in there to return to Cuba to start businesses.
In 2001, after massive damage was caused by Hurricane Michelle, Castro declined U.S. humanitarian aid, but proposed a one-time cash purchase of food from the United States. George W. Bush's administration complied, authorizing the shipment of food. With the fuel supply running dangerously low, Castro ordered 118 factories to be closed, and sent thousands of Cuban doctors to Venezuela in exchange for oil imports.
In the late 1990s, speculation began to arise over Castro's age and well-being. Numerous health problems have been reported over the years, the most significant occurring in July 2006, when Castro underwent surgery for gastrointestinal bleeding. In a dramatic announcement, Castro designated his brother Raul as the country's temporary leader. Raul served as Castro's second in command for decades, and was officially selected as his successor in 1997. Since his surgery, the public has only seen Castro in photographs and video meetings.
On February 19, 2008, 81-year-old Fidel Castro permanently gave up the Cuban presidency due to his deteriorating physical condition. He handed over power to his brother, Raul, who was 76 years old at the time. The Cuban National Assembly officially elected Raul Castro as president of Cuba the same month, although Fidel Castro reportedly remained First Secretary of the Communist Party.
In April 2011, news broke that Fidel Castro officially stepped down from his role within Cuba's Communist Party. Raul Castro easily won election as the party's new first secretary, taking over for his brother and picking famed revolutionary Jose Ramon Machado Venture to serve as the party's second in command.
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