Castro was born in southeastern Cuba to Spanish immigrant Ángel Castro y Argiz. His father was a fairly prosperous sugarcane farmer in an area dominated by a U.S. owned fruit company. While being married to his first wife, Fidel’s father began an affair with one of his servants. He later married her, and Fidel became one of their children.
He attended Roman Catholic boarding schools in Santiago de Cuba and then the Catholic high school Belén in Havana. His main focus in university was politics. In 1945 he entered the School of Law of the University of Havana, where he organized violent gangs to advance political aims and personal careers.
Fulgenico Batista was elected in 1940 and repealed Platt Amendment (removed U.S. military from Cuba and gave control of Cuba to U.S. government)
Batista’s elimination of the Constitution in 1952 left a large amount of control to the U.S, including ownership of a majority of assets and power over the only market for the largely sugar-based economy
Castro unsuccessfully led an attack on Batista, getting him arrested
Castro recruited peasants and unemployed rural inhabitants to join him
He utilized a nationalistic rhetoric to gain support from Cubans
He established diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union and waged guerilla war against Batista(and won)
The Soviet Union provided Cuba with the opportunity to sell to markets outside of the U.S. and also had ideological conflict with the U.S.
He published the 1957 Sierra Maestra Manifesto that talked about truly free, democratic elections, but instead wrote a completely new constitution that didn’t rely on elections
Castro aimed to follow Marxist-Leninist ideology
A U.S. embargo prevented access to medical supplies
Castro took several actions to improve the conditions for poorer Cubans including:
Abolishing land rents
Lowering utility rates
Providing free education
Lowering student standards to help them pass tests (improving literacy rates for a short period of time)
Temporarily improved lives of Afro-Cubans through literacy campaigns and universal education
The Cuban Missile Crisis
“The Special Period”- an extended period of economic crisis due to the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991
He had Cuba switch to tourism-based economy to counter the effects of the collapse of the Soviet Union