Former Cuban President Fidel Castro delivers a speech during the commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Committees of Defense of the Revolution on September 28, 2010 in Havana.
CNN  — 

Here’s a look at the life of Fidel Castro, former leader of Cuba.


Birth date: August 13, 1926

Death date: November 25, 2016

Birth place: Biran, Cuba

Birth name: Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz

Father: Angel Castro, landowner

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

Marriage: Dalia Soto del Valle (date unavailable-November 25, 2016, his death); Mirta Diaz-Balart (1948-1955, divorced)

Children: with Natalia Revuelta: Alina; with unknown woman: Jorge Angel; with Dalia Soto del Valle: Alexis, Alexander, Antonio, Alejandro and Angel; with Mirta Diaz-Balart: Fidel “Fidelito”

Education: Colegio Dolores in Santiago de Cuba, 1942; Colegio Belen in Havana, 1945; University of Havana, doctorate in 1950

Other Facts

Led the overthrow of the Batista dictatorship of Cuba in 1959.

Made Cuba the first Communist country in the Western Hemisphere.

Brought social reforms to Cuba, but was criticized for oppressing human rights and freedom of speech.

During his time in office, thousands of Cubans sought exile in the United States.


1947 - Castro participates in an unsuccessful rebellion in the Dominican Republic against Generalissimo Rafael Trujillo.

1952 - Castro runs for parliament. The government is overthrown on March 10, 1952, by Fulgencio Batista, and the elections are suspended.

July 26, 1953 - Castro and approximately 150 others attack the Moncada military barracks in Santiago de Cuba in an unsuccessful attempt to overthrow the Batista regime.

October 16, 1953 - Castro is sentenced to 15 years in prison.

May 15, 1955 - Fidel and Raul Castro are released as part of a general amnesty for political prisoners. They go into exile in Mexico. While in Mexico, they meet Argentine physician Che Guevara. The three organize a group of Cuban exiles into a new guerrilla group.

December 2, 1956 - Eighty-two exiles land in Cuba, on a yacht named Granma. Most are killed immediately. The survivors, including Guevara and the Castros, flee to the Sierra Maestra Mountains. Between 1957 and 1958, they wage a guerrilla campaign from this base, which includes skirmishes with government troops and burning sugar crops.

January 1, 1959 - Batista is overthrown by Castro’s forces.

January 2, 1959 - Manuel Urrutia is named the new president. Jose Miro Cardona is appointed prime minister.

February 16, 1959 - Castro takes over as prime minister.

April 15-26, 1959 - Castro visits the United States.

May 8, 1960 - Cuba and the Soviet Union establish formal diplomatic relations.

September 1960 - Castro addresses the United Nations General Assembly.

April 17, 1961 - A group of approximately 1,300 Cuban exiles land at Playa Giron (Bay of Pigs). Armed with US weapons, they make an unsuccessful attempt to overthrow Castro. The survivors are released in December 1962, in exchange for $53 million in food and medicine.

May 1962 - A Soviet delegation visits Cuba. During the visit, Soviet officials meet with Castro to discuss installing nuclear missiles in Cuba.

December 3, 1976 - Castro becomes president of the State Council. This new title replaces the posts of president and prime minister.

March 18, 1977 - US President Jimmy Carter ends the ban on US travel to Cuba.

April-September 1980 - Some 125,000 Cubans immigrate to the United States. This exodus becomes known as the Mariel Boatlift.

April 19, 1982 - US President Ronald Reagan reinstates the ban on US travel to Cuba.

August 19, 1994 - US President Bill Clinton announces an end to the “open door” policy on Cuban refugees, established by US President Lyndon Johnson in 1966. From now on, Cubans intercepted at sea will be repatriated, but those who reach land will be allowed to stay.

January 21-25, 1998 - Castro welcomes Pope John Paul II as the pontiff begins a historic five-day visit. This marks the first time a pope has ever visited Cuba.

December 13, 2000 - Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with Castro in Cuba.

Spring 2003 - Castro cracks down on dissidents, giving long sentences to 75 arrested activists.

October 20, 2004 - After delivering a speech, Castro falls while leaving the podium.

July 31, 2006 - A statement read on Cuban TV announces that Castro is undergoing intestinal surgery and has provisionally handed over power to his brother Raul. The arrangement is expected to last for several weeks while Castro recuperates.

June 3, 2007 - Castro is shown on Cuban TV standing and greeting a visitor.

October 29, 2007 - Castro publishes his autobiography, “My Life,” in the United Kingdom. The book contains a series of interviews done with journalist Ignacio Ramonet. The book is released in the United States in 2008.

February 19, 2008 - Castro announces his resignation as president in a letter published on the online version of Cuba’s state-run newspaper, Granma.

December 4, 2008 - In an essay, writes that Cuba would be willing to talk with US President Barack Obama’s administration.

March 22, 2011 - In an essay published by Cuban state media, Castro writes that he resigned as head of the Communist party when he fell ill on July 31, 2006, and never tried to resume his position.

February 3, 2012 - Castro publishes a two-volume memoir of his life, “Fidel Castro Ruz: Guerrilla of Time,” based on conversations with the journalist Katiuska Blanco.

October 22, 2012 - The Cuban government steps up efforts to prove Castro is still in good health. Former Venezuelan Vice President Elias Jaua claims to have met with Castro and shows reporters a photo of the two of them together.

January 26, 2015 - A published letter purportedly written by Castro endorses the fledgling talks to restore diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States even though Castro still “doesn’t trust” US policies.

March 2, 2015 - Cuba’s state-run press publishes photos of Castro speaking with five Cuban intelligence agents recently released by the United States in a prisoner swap.

April 19, 2016 - During a speech Castro addresses his mortality saying, “Soon I will turn 90 years old, never would such a thing have occurred to me, and it’s not the outcome of any effort; it was fate’s whim, soon I will be like everyone else. To all of us comes our turn.”

November 25, 2016 - President Raul Castro announces the death of his older brother. Cuba begins an official mourning period where all activities and public performances stop, and the flag will fly at half-staff in public and military establishments.

February 1, 2018 - Castro’s oldest son, Fidel “Fidelito” Castro Díaz-Balart, takes his own life, according to Cuban state media.