Other Free Encyclopedias » Brief Biographies » Biographies: Katie Burke (1953–) Biography - Personal to Galeazzo Ciano (1903–1944) Biography » Fidel Castro: 1927—: President Biography - Born Into Privilege, Rejected Batista's Dictatorship, Instigated Revolution, Clashed With United States

Fidel Castro: 1927—: President - Enlisted New Economic Reforms

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Castro suffered many setbacks during the 1990s, primarily due to the collapse of the Soviet Union and the reduction of Russian aid. In 1996 the United States passed the Helms-Burton Act, tightening the embargo by attempting to impose penalties on other countries that traded with Cuba. Reductions in Russian oil left many Cuban factories inoperative. There was a shortage of electricity, and bicycles became the primary mode of transportation in cities like Havana. Many farmers were forced to replace their tractors with oxen, while a deficiency of farm products required Cubans to stand in line to receive a single load of bread.

Despite such difficulties, Castro remained in power. He has, however, made a number of concessions toward market economies during the 1990s, leading to a greater emphasis on tourism. He also encouraged investment from Spain, Mexico, France, and Canada. Cuba also softened its rhetoric against the United States. In November of 2001, Cuba received $30 million in humanitarian aid from American companies after a hurricane devastated the island. The Economist noted, "Foreign diplomats speculate that Cuba, facing great economic difficulties, has the desire, and may have an opportunity, to improve relations." Castro, however, has shown no intention of instituting the one reform most requested by American critics: democracy. After over 40 years as Cuba' s leader, he appears determined to maintain the status quo. Hatchwell and Calder summarized, "It is difficult to imagine Fidel Castro standing down; any subsequent leader would be hard pushed to command any authority as long as he was still alive."

Selected Writings

Playa Girón: A Victory of the People, Editorial en Marcha, 1961.

History Will Absolve Me, Carol Publishing Group, 1961.

Revolutionary Struggle, MIT Press, 1972.

In Defense of Socialism, Pathfinder Press, 1989.

Selected Speeches of Fidel Castro, Pathfinder Press, 1992.

Fidel Castro Reader, Ocean Press, 2002.



Bourne, Peter G., Fidel: a Biography of Fidel Castro, Dodd, Mead & Company, 1986, pp. 14, 26, 64, 195.

Calder, Simon, and Hatchwell, Emily, Cuba In Focus: a Guide to the People, Politics and Culture, Interlink Books, 1999, pp. 15, 19, 38.

Szulc, Tad, Fidel: a Critical Portrait, William Morrow and Company, 1986, p. 14.

Thomas, Hugh, Cuba: or, The Pursuit of Freedom, Da Capo Press, 1998, pp. 808, 809, 812, 996.


Economist (US), January 26, 2002.

World and I, May 2001, p. 265.


Biography Resource Center, Gale, 2002, http://www.galenet.com/servlet/BioRC.

—Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.

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