Fidel Castro was born on August 13, 1926. He attended Catholic schools before graduating from the University of Havana with a degree in law.
Castro was a member of the Ortodoxo Party, a social-democrat party, and strongly criticized the government of Fulgencio Batista.
On the 26th of July in 1953, Fidel Castro launched an attack on the Moncada army barracks. It failed, and most involved were killed or captured. Fidel was captured and given a trial, which he used to make his famous speech, "History Will Absolve Me". Sentenced to 15 years, he was pardoned after just two.
He then went into exile in Mexico, where he trained and assembled the 26th of July Movement. He gained support from Che Guevara and others before leaving aboard the Granma to invade Cuba in 1956.
Returning to Cuba, the revolutionaries hid in the Sierra Maestra mountains, gaining support among the peasants. Eventually, Batista was forced to flee in 1959 and Castro took over.
Many Cubans left when it became clear that the Revolution was a Marxist one. Economic antagonism from the United States caused Castro to nationalize all American property.
The United States Government tried various schemes to assassinate Fidel Castro and continues to economically isolate Cuba. The CIA even tried to invade Cuba at the Bay of Pigs to remove Fidel Castro from power, but the Cubans successfully fought it off.
As a result, Castro became closely aligned with the Soviet Union. The Soviets bought large amounts of sugar and supplied Cuba with economic and military assistance. This money fueled many of Castro's social programs, such as his war on illiteracy and free universal health care. Unfortunately, aligning Cuba with the USSR only led to more friction between Cuba and the United States.
Castro has also successfully assisted foreign revolutions in Angola and Ethiopia. He was elected the head of Nonaligned Nations Movement and has been a strong critic of US imperialism. The destruction of the Soviet Union has left Cuba in a poor economic state and Castro less of an international figure, though he remains President of Cuba.