Raul Castro Fast Facts

Cuban acting President Raul Castro participates in a military parade on December 2, 2006 at the Revolution Square to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Cuban Army and the 80th birthday of his brother, Cuban President Fidel Castro.

(CNN)Here's a look at the life of Raul Castro, President of Cuba.

Birth date:
June 3, 1931

Birth place: Biran, Cuba

Birth name: Raul Modesto Castro Ruz

    Father: Angel Castro, a wealthy Spanish landowner

    Mother: Lina Ruz, a cook and maid to Angel Castro's first wife

    Marriage: Vilma Espin (1959-2007, her death)

    Children: Mariela; Nilsa; Deborah; Alejandro

    Education: Attended the University of Havana

    1953 -
    Attempts, along with his older brother Fidel Castro, to overthrow the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista, after which both are sentenced to 15 years in prison. They are released less than two years later as part of an amnesty for political prisoners. Both go into exile in Mexico.

    January 1, 1959 - The Castros successfully overthrow the Batista government.

    January 1959 - Three weeks after taking power, Fidel Castro states that his brother is to be his successor, telling supporters: "Behind me are others more radical than I." It is not made legal until 1997.

    October 1959 - After Fidel Castro becomes the first communist leader in the Western Hemisphere, he appoints Raul Castro to several prominent roles in his government including defense minister.

    April 1961 - His troops defeat the CIA-led Bay of Pigs invasion.

    1962 - Becomes deputy prime minister.

    July 1962 - In a visit to the Soviet Union, Raul Castro is promised missiles. This development leads to the U.S.-Cuban Missile crisis.

    1970s - Is deeply involved in the military conflicts in Angola and Ethiopia.

    1972 - Appointed first deputy prime minister (later called vice president).

    1991 - Is very involved with saving Cuba from extreme financial crisis after the fall of the Soviet Union.

    October 1997 - Cuba's Communist Party officially designates Raul Castro as Fidel Castro's successor should he die or be unable to perform his duties.

    2000 - Assumes a high profile role in the fight to return 6-year old Elian Gonzalez to Cuba from Florida. Gonzalez's father wanted Gonzalez returned to him in Cuba after the boy's mother died in their attempt to make it to the United States.

    2001 - In an interview with Cuban state television, Raul Castro states, "I am among those who believe that it would be in imperialism's interest to try, with our irreconcilable differences, to normalize relations as much as possible during Fidel's life." He later implies that he will be more difficult to deal with than Fidel Castro.

    July 31, 2006 - For the first time in his 47-year presidency, Fidel Castro temporarily hands over power to Raul Castro while undergoing intestinal surgery.

    February 19, 2008 - Fidel Castro, in a letter, resigns from office as "President of the Council of State and Commander in Chief" of Cuba. This leaves the way open for the next National Assembly meeting, in five days, to select Raul Castro as Cuba's new official leader.

    February 24, 2008 - Chosen by Cuba's National Assembly to be the country's new president.

    April 28, 2008 - Announces there will be a Communist Party Congress, the first since 1997. He also commutes most of the death row prison sentences to 30 years to life. Because of several delays and postponements, the congress does not actually meet until April 16, 2011.

    December 13, 2008 - Makes first international trip as president, visiting Venezuela's president Hugo Chavez.

    March 2, 2009 - Reorganizes his Cabinet, replacing long-time aides to Fidel Castro.

    April 6, 2009 - Meets with visiting members of the U.S. Congressional Black Caucus.

    March 22, 2011 - Fidel Castro says that he resigned all his state and political positions, including head of the Communist Party, on July 31, 2006.

    April 16, 2011 - Raul Castro Opens the long-delayed Communist Party Congress by declaring leaders should be limited to two five-year terms in office.

    April 19, 2011 - Cuba's Communist Party elects President Raul Castro to succeed Fidel Castro as head of the country's highest political body and only legal party.

    March 27, 2012 - Meets privately with Pope Benedict XVI during the pontiff's visit to Cuba. Castro agrees to the Pope's request to make Good Friday on April 6, 2012 a national holiday. It is only the second time since 1959 that the government has recognized a religious holiday.

    February 24, 2013 - Is elected to a second five-year term. During a nationally televised speech, Castro announces that he will step down from power in 2018 when his term is over.

    December 17, 2014 - Cuba and the United States announce plans to renew diplomatic relations after a half-century long Cold War. The Canadiian government and Pope Francis are advocates for the plans. Castro says, "This expression by President Barack Obama deserves the respect and recognition by all the people."

    April 12, 2015 - Castro meets with President Barack Obama during the Summit of the Americas in Panama. They discuss ending the long standstill in U.S.-Cuba relations.

    May 10, 2015 - Meets with Pope Francis for the first time. They talk for 50 minutes at the Vatican. Castro thanks the Pope for facilitating talks between Cuba and the United States. He later says he may rejoin the Catholic Church.