Dedicated to the 100 million victims of communism worldwide.
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National Exhibit
National Exhibit
Fidel Castro

Fidel Castro Ruz was born in 1926 to a Spanish immigrant sugar farmer and his Cuban consort. As a young lawyer, he emerged in the 1950s as an opponent of Cuba’s dictator Fulgencio Batista. With a small group of revolutionaries, in 1953 Castro organized a bold attack on the Moncada military Barracks in Santiago de Cuba. The attack failed but Castro’s trial made him a figure of national importance.

After two years in prison and amnesty, Castro traveled to Mexico where he organized a new guerrilla movement to overthrow Batista. Castro with 85 others landed in Cuba in late 1956. Within three years, Castro orchestrated the overthrow of President Batista, who fled Cuba on New Year’s Eve, 1958.

Following Batista’s ouster, Castro maneuvered past those calling for an elective democracy to gain control over the Cuban state. He began to expropriate property, nationalize industry, and build political and military ties with the Soviet Union. In 1960, Castro officially declared Cuba a socialist state, purged media opposition and imprisoned political dissenters.

In 1961, newly-elected U.S. President John F. Kennedy authorized the CIA-supported Bay of Pigs invasion by Cuban exiles to topple the Castro regime. In 1962, after the abject failure of the Bay of Pigs, the U.S. imposed a severe trade embargo and went to the brink of nuclear war following the Soviet placement of nuclear missiles on Cuban soil.

Throughout his fifty year regime, Fidel’s ideas about politics, economics, and international affairs reigned supreme in Cuba. The island became an economic dependency of the Soviet Union for decades and with the help Soviet arms projected power and exported revolution in Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East. The collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990’s and transformations in world communism left Cuba and Castro stranded in the backwash of the modern world.

Castro saved Cuba from complete economic collapse by opening the island to foreign investment and tourism but preserved total control over politics and society. In July 2006, Castro suffered a grave health crisis and surrendered temporary authority to his brother, Raul. In February 2008, Fidel officially surrendered the role of President of the Council of State to his brother Raul, although he remains a strong influence over Cuba’s totalitarian government.

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Cuba
Location:  Caribbean
Capital:  Havana
Communist Rule:  January 1959-Current
Status:  
Victims of Communism:
73 000