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Fidel Castro: 1927—: President

Rejected Batista's Dictatorship

Castro married Mirta Díaz-Balart on October 10, 1948, and in 1949, Fidel Castro Diaz-Balart, or Fidelito, was born. Castro received a doctorate in law in 1950 and worked for the law firm of Azpiazu, Castro y Rosendo. He also became involved in politics, joining the Party of the Cuban People (Ortodoxos) in 1947. Many believed that the party's leader, Eduardo Chibás, would win the presidential election in 1952, but he surprised his followers by committing suicide on live radio on August 5, 1951. Castro became a candidate for Congress in 1952, but the elections were called off when former president Fulgencio Batista staged a coup on March 10, 1952. Bourne noted, "It was a moment of despair for those who thought that through the elections and the idealism of the Ortodoxo Party Cuba was finally going to end fifty years of turmoil and become a tranquil democratic country. No one was more angered than Fidel, who saw his hopes for a political career dashed."

Castro openly challenged Batista by submitting a petition to the Court of Constitutional Guarantees, accusing the dictator of violating the Constitution of 1940. When the petition was rejected, Castro gathered a small band of opposition forces and planned an armed insurrection. With 150 men, mostly factory workers, agriculture workers, and shop assistants, he attacked the Moncada military barracks in Santiago de Cuba, hoping to stir an uprising in Oriente Province. The armed assault ended in disaster. Nearly half of the participants were captured, tortured, and then killed, while Castro and his brother Raúl were arrested.

During his trial in September of 1953, Castro made a speech justifying his actions, but he also added political elements calling for land reform, civil liberties, and rural improvements. The speech later appeared in a pamphlet that circulated secretly. Castro lost his plea and was sentenced to 15 years in prison. In 1953, while in jail, Mirta Castro was granted a divorce. On May of 1955, after only a year and a half in prison, Castro, his brother Raúl, and 18 followers left the Isle of Pines under the amnesty law.

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