Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz (Spanish: ; born August 13, 1926) is a Cuban revolutionary and politician, having held the position of Prime Minister of Cuba from 1959 to 1976, and then President from 1976 to 2008. He also served as the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba from the party's foundation in 1961 until 2011. Politically a Marxist-Leninist, under his administration Cuba was converted into a one-party socialist state, with industry being nationalised under state ownership and socialist reforms implemented in all areas of society.
Born the illegitimate son of a wealthy farmer, Castro became involved in leftist and anti-imperialist politics whilst studying law at the University of Havana. Subsequently involving himself in several armed rebellions against rightist governments in the Dominican Republic and Colombia, he went on to conclude that the U.S.-backed Cuban President Fulgencio Batista, who was widely seen as a dictator, had to be overthrown. To this end he led an armed attack on the Moncada Barracks in 1953, but this failed and he was imprisoned. Getting out of prison after a year, he travelled to Mexico, and with the aid of his brother Raúl Castro and friend Che Guevara, he assembled together a group of Cuban revolutionaries, the July 26 Movement. Returning with them to Cuba, he took a key role in the Cuban Revolution, leading a successful guerilla war against Batista's forces, with Batista himself fleeing into exile in 1959.
Castro subsequently came to power and shortly thereafter became Prime Minister of Cuba. His anti-imperialist views alarmed the United States, who through the CIA organised the failed Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961 to overthrow his government, before proceeding to orchestrate repeated assassination attempts against him and implement an illegal economic blockade of Cuba. This only served to turn him further against the U.S., instead forging an alliance with the Soviet Union and allowing them to store nuclear weapons on the island, leading to the events of the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. Adopting Marxism-Leninism as his guiding ideology, in 1961 he proclaimed the socialist nature of the Cuban revolution, and in 1965 became First Secretary of the newly founded Communist Party of Cuba, with all other parties being abolished. He then led the transformation of Cuba into a socialist republic, nationalising industry and introducing free healthcare and education for all.