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February 16, 2013


Havana, Cuba (JFK+50) 54 years ago today, February 16, 1959, Fidel Castro* was sworn in as Prime Minister of Cuba after the successful overthrow of dictator Fulgencio Batista.


Che Guevara & Fidel Castro
Photo by Alberto Korda (1961)


*Fidel Castro was born in Biran, Oriente Province on August 13, 1926.  Castro’s family ran a sugar plantation.He was a multi-sport athlete as a youth & was trained in law at the University of Havana.Castro married Mirta Diaz-Balart & the couple had one child, a son named Fidelito who was born in 1949.

As early as July 26, 1953, Castro led the effort to depose Batista by attacking Cuba’s 2nd largest military base in Santiago.

The attack failed & Castro was arrested, tried, found guilty for conspiring against the government & sentenced to 15 years in prison.

In 1955, however, Castro, along with all political prisoners, was released.  He then went to Mexico where he joined with his brother Raul & Argentina’s Che Guevara.

On December 2, 1956, the 3 revolutionaries launched an attack against Batisita’s forces on the coast but were forced into the mountains where they continued the fight.

Batista’s unpopularity demoralized his military forces & Guevara defeated them at Santa Clara forcing the embattled dictator to flee the island on January 1, 1959.

The Eisenhower Administration initially recognized the Castro regime, but withdrew support when he nationalized $850 million of US assets on the island & declared himself a Marxist.

A covert operation by the CIA was authorized by President Eisenhower to train Cuban exiles who would launch an invasion to overthrow Castro.

JFK inherited this plan & gave his approval for the invasion at the Bay of Pigs which took place on April 17, 1961.

The invasion failed & most of the CIA trained brigade were taken as prisoners.

Fidel Castro remained in power from February 1959 to February 2008.


Fidel Castro
at Jose Marti Monument
Photo by Ricardo Stuckert
Abr (2003)




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