Fidel Castro: 1926-2016

On July 26, 1953, Fidel Castro led an attack on the Moncada military garrison. The attack failed, but it was the beginning of Castro’s long march to power. At the trial following the attack, Castro is reported to have closed his defense with the words: “Condemn me, it does not matter to me. History will absolve me.” In the early morning hours of January 1st, 1959, President Fulgencio Batista and his closest followers fled Cuba by plane. Slowly, triumphantly, Castro led a motorized parade across the island, reaching Havana on Jan. 8, a week after Batista fled. Tens of thousands lined the streets, waving flags and applauding this bearded young man who was promising to lead them into a new era of democracy and freedom. That night, at Camp Columbia, Castro gave a powerful speech. The people had nothing to worry about, he promised: “We cannot ever become dictators.”  Castro became one of the most divisive and authoritarian leaders of the 20th century. He died on November 26, 2016.

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