Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz
born August 13, 1926
is a communist Cuban politician, one of the primary leaders of the Cuban Revolution, the Prime Minister of Cuba from February 1959 to December 1976, and then the President of the Council of State of Cuba until his resignation from the office in February 2008. He currently serves as First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba, a position he has held since its inception in 1965.
Castro was born into a wealthy family and acquired a law degree. While studying at the University of Havana, he began his political career and became a recognized figure in Cuban politics. His political career continued with nationalist critiques of the president, Fulgencio Batista, and of the United States' political and corporate influence in Cuba. He gained an ardent, but limited, following and also drew the attention of the authorities. He eventually led the failed 1953 attack on the Moncada Barracks, after which he was captured, tried, incarcerated, and later released. He then traveled to Mexico to organize and train for an invasion of Cuba to overthrow Batista's government, which began in December 1956.
Castro subsequently came to power as a result of the Cuban revolution that overthrew the U.S.-backed dictatorship of Batista, and shortly thereafter became Prime Minister of Cuba. In 1965 he became First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba and led the transformation of Cuba into a one-party socialist republic. In 1976 he became President of the Council of State as well as of the Council of Ministers. He also held the supreme military rank of Comandante en Jefe ("Commander in Chief") of the Cuban armed forces.
Following intestinal surgery from an undisclosed digestive illness believed to have been diverticulitis, Castro transferred his responsibilities to the First Vice-President, his younger brother RaÃºl Castro, on July 31, 2006. On February 19, 2008, five days before his mandate was to expire, he announced he would neither seek nor accept a new term as either president or commander-in-chief. On February 24, 2008, the National Assembly elected RaÃºl Castro to succeed him as the President of Cuba.