Fidel Castro, the former Cuban revolutionary who led the country for five decades, died Friday, Nov. 25. He was 90.
Castro was born Aug. 13, 1926, in eastern Cuba’s Birán to a Spanish immigrant father. He studied in Jesuit schools and earned law and social science degrees in the University of Havana.
In 1953, Castro organized a rebel force to oust Gen. Fulgencio Batista’s dictatorship. In bid to trigger popular uprising, Castro carried out a suicidal attack on the Moncada military barracks in Santiago de Cuba, which killed several of his comrades. Following this, Castro and his brother Raul were sent to prison for 15 years. However, the brothers received political amnesty and were released in 1955.
Castro headed out to Mexico, where he organized a rebel group and returned to Cuba in 1956. Most of his men were killed or captured. He then gathered support in Cuba’s eastern Sierra Maestra mountains and won several victories against the Batista regime. Bastista fled Cuba Jan. 1, 1959 and the same year Castro assimilated political power into his own hands.
In 2006, he stepped down due to a gastrointestinal illness and handed over power to his brother Raul. Since then, his public appearances became fewer as he grew more reclusive.
Following are some memorable quotes by the revolutionary leader.
- “Condemn me. It does not matter. History will absolve me.”
- “We will win this battle for life, and not only for your lives, but also for the lives of all children in the world.”
- “Cuba is not opposed to finding a solution to its historical differences with the United States, but no one should expect Cuba to change its position or yield in its principles. Cuba is and will continue to be socialist. Cuba is and will continue to be a friend of the Soviet Union and of all the socialist states.”
- “I find capitalism repugnant. It is filthy, it is gross, it is alienating... because it causes war, hypocrisy and competition.”
- “I am not a communist and neither is the revolutionary movement.”
- “A revolution is a struggle to the death between the future and the past.”
- “There is not Communism or Marxism, but representative democracy and social justice in a well-planned economy.”
- “I began revolution with 82 men. If I had to do it again, I do it with 10 or 15 and absolute faith. It does not matter how small you are if you have faith and plan of action.”
- “North Americans don’t understand... that our country is not just Cuba; our country is also humanity.”
- “Someday, the capitalist system will disappear in the United States, because no social class system has been eternal. One day, class societies will disappear.”
- “I can assure you that my first and foremost interest is my country.”
- “I think that a man should not live beyond the age when he begins to deteriorate, when the flame that lighted the brightest moment of his life has weakened.”