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Fidel Castro

Birthdate: 13. August 1926
Date of death: 25. November 2016
Other names: Castro, Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz, Ruz Fidel Alejandro Castro

Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz was a Cuban communist revolutionary and politician who governed the Republic of Cuba as Prime Minister from 1959 to 1976 and then as President of the Council of State and Council of Ministers from 1976 to 2008. A Marxist–Leninist and Cuban nationalist, Castro also served as the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba from 1961 until 2011. Under his administration, Cuba became a one-party communist state, while industry and business were nationalized and state socialist policies were implemented throughout society.

Born in Birán, Oriente as the son of a wealthy Spanish farmer, Castro adopted leftist anti-imperialist ideas while studying law at the University of Havana. After participating in rebellions against right-wing governments in the Dominican Republic and Colombia, he planned the overthrow of Cuban President Fulgencio Batista, launching a failed attack on the Moncada Barracks in 1953. After a year's imprisonment, Castro traveled to Mexico where he formed a revolutionary group, the 26th of July Movement, with his brother Raúl Castro and Ernesto "Che" Guevara. Returning to Cuba, Castro took a key role in the Cuban Revolution by leading the Movement in a guerrilla war against Batista's forces from the Sierra Maestra. After Batista's overthrow in 1959, Castro assumed military and political power as Cuba's Prime Minister. The United States came to oppose Castro's government and unsuccessfully attempted to remove him by assassination, economic blockade, and counter-revolution, including the Bay of Pigs Invasion of 1961. Countering these threats, Castro aligned with the Soviet Union and allowed the Soviets to place nuclear weapons in Cuba, resulting in the Cuban Missile Crisis – a defining incident of the Cold War – in 1962.

Adopting a Marxist–Leninist model of development, Castro converted Cuba into a one-party, socialist state under Communist Party rule, the first in the Western Hemisphere. Policies introducing central economic planning and expanding healthcare and education were accompanied by state control of the press and the suppression of internal dissent. Abroad, Castro supported anti-imperialist revolutionary groups, backing the establishment of Marxist governments in Chile, Nicaragua, and Grenada, as well as sending troops to aid allies in the Yom Kippur, Ogaden, and Angolan Civil War. These actions, coupled with Castro's leadership of the Non-Aligned Movement from 1979 to 1983 and Cuba's medical internationalism, increased Cuba's profile on the world stage. Following the Soviet Union's dissolution in 1991, Castro led Cuba through the economic downturn of the "Special Period", embracing environmentalist and anti-globalization ideas. In the 2000s, Castro forged alliances in the Latin American "pink tide" – namely with Hugo Chávez's Venezuela – and signed Cuba up to the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas. In 2006, Castro transferred his responsibilities to Vice President Raúl Castro, who was elected to the presidency by the National Assembly in 2008.

The longest-serving non-royal head of state in the 20th and 21st centuries, Castro polarized opinion throughout the world. His supporters view him as a champion of socialism and anti-imperialism whose revolutionary regime advanced economic and social justice while securing Cuba's independence from US hegemony. Critics view him as a dictator whose administration oversaw human-rights abuses, the exodus of a large number of Cubans, and the impoverishment of the country's economy. Castro was decorated with various international awards and significantly influenced different individuals and groups across the world.

Quotes Fidel Castro

„Man is born egotistical, a result of the conditioning of nature. Nature fills us with instincts; it is education that fills us with virtues.“

—  Fidel Castro

University of Havana address (2005)
Context: Man is born egotistical, a result of the conditioning of nature. Nature fills us with instincts; it is education that fills us with virtues. Nature makes us do things instinctively; one of these is the instinct for survival which can lead to infamy, while on the other side, our conscience can lead us to great acts of heroism. It doesn’t matter what each one of us is like, how different we are from each other, but when we unite we become one.
It is amazing that in spite of the differences between human beings, they can become as one in a single instant or they can be millions, and they can be a million strong just through their ideas. Nobody followed the Revolution as a cult to anyone or because they felt personal sympathy with any one person. It is only by embracing certain values and ideas that an entire people can develop the same willingness to make sacrifices of any one of those who loyally and sincerely try to lead them toward their destiny.

„After a week, I decided religion wasn't for me.“

—  Fidel Castro

As quoted in The Atheist's Bible (2007) edited by Joan Konner, p. 62
Context: When I was a young boy, my father taught me that to be a good Catholic, I had to confess at church if I ever had impure thoughts about a girl. That very evening, I had to rush to confess my sin. And the next night, and the next. After a week, I decided religion wasn't for me.

„I would dare say that today this species is facing a very real and true danger of extinction, and no one can be sure, listen to this well, no one can be sure that it will survive this danger.“

—  Fidel Castro

University of Havana address (2005)
Context: I would dare say that today this species is facing a very real and true danger of extinction, and no one can be sure, listen to this well, no one can be sure that it will survive this danger.
Well, the fact that the species would not survive was discussed about 2,000 years ago. I remember that when I was a student I heard of the Apocalypse, a book of prophesy in the Bible. Apparently, 2000 years ago someone realized that this weak species could one day disappear.

„Here is a conclusion I’ve come to after many years: among all the errors we may have committed, the greatest of them all was that we believed that someone really knew something about socialism, or that someone actually knew how to build socialism.“

—  Fidel Castro

University of Havana address (2005)
Context: Here is a conclusion I’ve come to after many years: among all the errors we may have committed, the greatest of them all was that we believed that someone really knew something about socialism, or that someone actually knew how to build socialism. It seemed to be a sure fact, as well-known as the electrical system conceived by those who thought they were experts in electrical systems. Whenever they said: “That’s the formula”, we thought they knew. Just as if someone is a physician. You are not going to debate anemia, or intestinal problems, or any other condition with a physician; nobody argues with the physician. You can think that he is a good doctor or a bad one, you can follow his advice or not, but you won’t argue with him. Which of us would argue with a doctor, or a mathematician, or a historian, or an expert in literature or in any other subject? But we must be idiots if we think, for example, that economy is an exact and eternal science and that it existed since the days of Adam and Eve, and I offer my apologies to the thousands of economists in our country.

„It is amazing that in spite of the differences between human beings, they can become as one in a single instant or they can be millions, and they can be a million strong just through their ideas.“

—  Fidel Castro

University of Havana address (2005)
Context: Man is born egotistical, a result of the conditioning of nature. Nature fills us with instincts; it is education that fills us with virtues. Nature makes us do things instinctively; one of these is the instinct for survival which can lead to infamy, while on the other side, our conscience can lead us to great acts of heroism. It doesn’t matter what each one of us is like, how different we are from each other, but when we unite we become one.
It is amazing that in spite of the differences between human beings, they can become as one in a single instant or they can be millions, and they can be a million strong just through their ideas. Nobody followed the Revolution as a cult to anyone or because they felt personal sympathy with any one person. It is only by embracing certain values and ideas that an entire people can develop the same willingness to make sacrifices of any one of those who loyally and sincerely try to lead them toward their destiny.

„The important thing is the revolution!“

—  Fidel Castro

Speech at the memorial service http://www.cuba.cu/gobierno/discursos/1967/esp/f181067e.html of Che Guevara (8 October 1967)
Context: Warfare is a means and not an end. Warfare is a tool of revolutionaries. The important thing is the revolution! The important thing is the revolutionary cause, revolutionary ideas, revolutionary objectives, revolutionary sentiments, revolutionary virtues!

„Revolution is the sense of the historical moment; it is changing everything that must be changed“

—  Fidel Castro

As quoted in Speech by Dr. Fidel Castro Ruz, President of the Republic of Cuba, at the mass rally called by the Cuban youths, students and workers on the occasion of the International Labor Day at the Revolution Square http://www.fidelcastro.cu/en/discursos/speech-mass-rally-called-cuban-youths-students-and-workers-revolution-square-occasion (May 1, 2000)
Context: Revolution is the sense of the historical moment; it is changing everything that must be changed; it is full equality and freedom; it is being treated and treating others like human beings; it is emancipating ourselves, by ourselves and with our very own efforts; it is challenging the dominant powerful forces within and outside of the social and national arena; it is defending the values one believes in at the cost of any sacrifice; it is modesty, selflessness, altruism, solidarity and heroism; it is fighting with audacity, intelligence and realism; it is never telling a lie or violating ethical principles; it is the profound conviction that there is no force on earth that can crush truth and ideas. Revolution is unity, it is independence, it is fighting for our dreams of justice for Cuba and the world that is the basis of our patriotism, our socialism and our internationalism.

„Capitalism—and I say it with such gusto—capitalism is so obsolete that it is dying by itself.“

—  Fidel Castro

Comments on Latin American Debt (15 September 1985) http://info.lanic.utexas.edu/la/cb/cuba/castro/1985/19850915
Context: Let us yield a bit. Let us grant socialism a few more years. Socialism is so obsolete, it is dying by itself.… Did I say socialism? I assure you on my honor this was not a mental slip. This was a slip of the tongue. Do not forget that. Capitalism—and I say it with such gusto—capitalism is so obsolete that it is dying by itself.

„I feel my belief in sacrifice and struggle getting stronger.“

—  Fidel Castro

Letter from prison (19 December 1953)
Context: I feel my belief in sacrifice and struggle getting stronger. I despise the kind of existence that clings to the miserly trifles of comfort and self-interest. 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.

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„All sense of dialectics is lost when someone believes that today’s economy is identical to the economy 50 or 100 or 150 years ago, or that it is identical to the one in Lenin’s day or to the time when Karl Marx lived.“

—  Fidel Castro

University of Havana address (2005)
Context: All sense of dialectics is lost when someone believes that today’s economy is identical to the economy 50 or 100 or 150 years ago, or that it is identical to the one in Lenin’s day or to the time when Karl Marx lived. Revisionism is a thousand miles away from my mind and I truly revere Marx, Engels and Lenin.

„A revolution is not a trail of roses.… A revolution is a fight to the death between the future and the past.“

—  Fidel Castro

Speech on the second anniversary of the triumph of the revolution (2 January 1961) http://www.cuba.cu/gobierno/discursos/1961/esp/f020161e.html

„We have a theoretical concept of the Revolution which is a dictatorship of the exploited against the exploiters.“

—  Fidel Castro

As quoted in With Fidel : A Portrait of Castro and Cuba (1976) by Frank Mankiewicz and Kirby Jones, p. 83
As quoted in Words of Wisdom : From the Greatest Minds of All Time (2004) edited by Mick Farren, p. 138
Variant: The revolution is a dictatorship of the exploited against the exploiters.

„Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Etiam egestas wisi a erat. Morbi imperdiet, mauris ac auctor dictum.“

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