One of the most charismatic figures of the third world is Fidel Castro, Dictator of Cuba. he has just turned 90. He has a first, as he is the first dictator to have voluntarily given up power. In 2006 he stepped down in favor of his brother Raul Castro. Castro came to power by a revolution, when aided by Che Guevara he overthrew another dictator Batista and became the de facto ruler of Cuba. The US probably would have accepted him if he had towed the American line, but Castro embraced Marxism and started a spree of nationalization and throwing out US industry.
The CIA was entrusted with the task of eliminating Castro as well as to overthrow him. This led to the Bay of Pigs invasion aided by the CIA with Cuban exiles in 1961, but the invasion flopped. Castro went into a Soviet embrace and allowed nuclear tipped missiles to be based in Cuba.
This was a direct threat to America and President Kennedy decided to act and this led to the famous Cuban missile crisis that almost led to a world war. However back channel negotiations defused the situation and the Russians agreed to dismantle their missiles as Kennedy agreed not to destabilize the Castro regime. The US also secretly agreed to remove their missiles from Turkey as a quid pro quo.
Castro consolidated his power and an endless stream of refugees escaped Cuba for America. Castro let them go as he tightened his grip on the country. He brought in some positives as he expanded health care and education to the Cuban masses. He also sent his doctors and specialists to third world countries and even now 50,000 Cuban doctors work in impoverished countries.
Legacy of Castro
Castro stood up to the USA and this is no small achievement, particularly after the collapse of the Soviet Union. He helped Cuba survive the crippling blockade and many Cubans feel a sense of pride and respect to Castro for giving them dignity and self-respect. Conversely, Cuban exiles invariably castigate Castro as a tyrant and bloodthirsty killer. Perhaps the truth lies somewhere in the middle.
Castro was a leader who was respected in the third world and will be one of the leaders of the 20th century who will leave his imprint on history. His legacy is a totalitarian Dictator and was yet an anti-imperialistic humanitarian. How popular is Castro in the world? It may be noted that a Google search brings up 20 million references to him.