Former President of Cuba and revolutionary icon Fidel Castro passed away on November 26, 2016 at the age of 90. Here are 11 facts you need to know about Fidel Castro – The man who ruled Cuba for more than 50 years!
→ Fidel Castro led Cuba for five decades. He was the 16th Prime Minister of Cuba from February 1959 till December 1976 and the 17th President of Cuba from December 1976 till February 2008. This made him the world’s third longest-serving head of state, after Britain’s Queen Elizabeth and the King of Thailand, who died earlier this year (2016).
→ On September 29, 1960, Fidel Castro made a Guinness record for the longest speech ever delivered at the United Nations. The speech was 4 hours and 29 minutes long!
→ Fidel Castro claimed that he survived 634 attempts or plots to assassinate him planned by the CIA. These attempts include killing him through poison pills, a toxic cigar, exploding molluscs, and even a chemically tainted diving suit. On his 80th birthday in 2006, he said, “I’m really happy to reach 80. I never expected it, not at least having a neighbour, the greatest power in the world, trying to kill me everyday!
→ He outlasted nine US presidents, which include (Dwight Eisenhower, John F Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Gerald Ford, George H W Bush, Bill Clinton). He vacated the president’s office officially in 2008 (George Bush was in office till 2009).
→ Fidel Castro had a liking for the cuban cigars. He gave up smoking in 1985. After many years, he said this about smoking: “The best thing you can do with this box of cigars is give them to your enemy.”
→ Fidel Castro married twice; he however has nine children from five women. His affair with Natalia Clews gave birth to Alina Fernandez who escaped from Cuba disguised as a tourist in 1993 and sought asylum in the US. She has been critical about her father’s policies ever since.
→It was Fidel’s brother Raul Castro who had befriended Argentine Marxist Revolutionary Ernesto Che Guevara. Fidel liked him and both became good friends over time.
→ Fidel Castro often described former Prime Minister of India Indira Gandhi as his sister and famously gave her a big bear hug when he visited India in March 1983.
→ In 2012, Time Magazine named Fidel Castro as one of the 100 most influential personalities of all time.
→ Once a formidable public speaker, in the last years of his life Fidel Castro rarely made public appearances. Castro, however, was occasionally seen in public, in videos and in pictures usually meeting important people. He was seen in public twice in 2012 and twice in 2013. He was also seen in public on January 8, 2014.
→ Fidel Castro developed close ties with the Soviet Union resulting in the cold war. The United States got offensive because of this and allegedly tried to remove Castro by attempts to assassinate, economic blockade and through the Bay of Pigs invasion of 1961. Castro replied by forming an alliance with Soviets Union. He allowed the Soviets to place nuclear weapons in Cuba leading to Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. Soviets removed the weapons on a condition: Cuba should not be attacked by the US!