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Fidel Castro Fast Facts

By CNN Library
August 1, 2014 -- Updated 2052 GMT (0452 HKT)
Former Cuban President Fidel Castro delivers a speech during the commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Committees of Defense of the Revolution on September 28, 2010 in Havana.
Former Cuban President Fidel Castro delivers a speech during the commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Committees of Defense of the Revolution on September 28, 2010 in Havana.

(CNN) -- Here's a look at the life of former Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

Personal:
Birth date: August 13, 1926

Birth place: Biran, Cuba

Birth name: Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz

Father: Angel Castro, a wealthy Spanish landowner.

Mother: Lina Ruz, a cook and maid to Angel Castro's first wife.

Marriage: Mirta Diaz-Balart (October 12, 1948-1955, divorced)

Children: with Natalia Revuelta: Alina Fernandez Revuelta, 1956; with unknown mistress: Jorge Angel Castro, 1950s; with mistress Dalia Soto del Valle: Antonio, Alejandro, Angel, Alexis, Alex; with Mirta Castro: Fidelito, 1949

Education: Colegio Dolores in Santiago de Cuba, 1942; Colegio Belen in Havana, 1945; University of Havana, doctorate in 1950.

Other Facts:
Led the overthrow of the Batista dictatorship of Cuba in 1959.

Made Cuba the first Communist country in the Western Hemisphere.

Brought social reforms to Cuba, but was been criticized for oppressing human rights and freedom of speech.

During his time in office, thousands of Cubans sought exile in the United States.

Timeline:
1947 - Castro participates in an unsuccessful rebellion in the Dominican Republic against Generalissimo Rafael Trujillo.

1952 - Castro runs for parliament. The government is overthrown March 10th, 1952, by Fulgencio Batista, and the elections are suspended.

July 26, 1953 - Castro and approximately 150 others attack the Moncada military barracks in Santiago de Cuba in an unsuccessful attempt to overthrow the Batista regime.

October 16, 1953 - Castro is sentenced to 15 years in prison.

May 15, 1955 - Fidel and Raul Castro are released as part of a general amnesty for political prisoners. They go into exile, and spend 1955-1956 in the United States and Mexico. While in Mexico, they meet Argentine physician Che Guevara. The three organize a group of Cuban exiles into a new guerrilla group.

December 2, 1956 - Eighty-two exiles land in Cuba, on a yacht named Granma. Most are killed immediately. The survivors, including Guevara and the Castros, flee to the Sierra Maestra Mountains. During 1957-1958 they wage a guerilla campaign from this base, which includes skirmishes with government troops and burning sugar crops.

January 1, 1959 - Fulgencio Batista is overthrown by Castro's forces.

January 2, 1959 - Manuel Urrutia is named the new president. Jose Miro Cardona is appointed prime minister.

February 16, 1959 - Castro takes over as prime minister.

April 15-26, 1959 - Castro visits the United States.

May 8, 1960 - Cuba and the Soviet Union establish formal diplomatic relations.

September 1960 - Castro addresses the United Nations General Assembly.

April 17, 1961 - A group of approximately 1,300 Cuban exiles lands at Playa Giron (Bay of Pigs). Armed with U.S. weapons, they make an unsuccessful attempt to overthrow Castro. Eventually, the survivors are released, in December 1962, in exchange for $53 million in food and medicine.

December 3, 1976 - Castro is elected president of the State Council. This new title replaces the posts of president and prime minister.

March 18, 1977 - President Jimmy Carter ends the ban on U.S. travel to Cuba.

April-September 1980 - Some 125,000 Cubans emigrate to the United States. This exodus becomes known as the Mariel Boatlift.

April 19, 1982 - President Ronald Reagan reinstates the ban on U.S. travel to Cuba.

August 19, 1994 - President Bill Clinton announces an end to the U.S. "open door" policy on Cuban refugees, established by President Lyndon Johnson in 1966. From now on, Cubans intercepted at sea will be repatriated, but those who reach land will be allowed to stay.

January 21-25, 1998 - Castro welcomes Pope John Paul II as the pontiff begins a historic five-day visit. This marks the first time a pope has ever visited Cuba.

December 13, 2000 - Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with Castro in Cuba. They discuss trade issues and the estimated $20 million Cuban debt with Moscow.

June 23, 2001 - Appears ill during a speech and is helped from the podium.

Spring 2003 - Castro cracks down on dissidents, giving long sentences to 75 arrested activists.

October 20, 2004 - After delivering a speech, Castro falls while leaving the podium.

July 31, 2006 - A statement read on Cuban TV announces that Fidel Castro is undergoing intestinal surgery and has provisionally handed over power to his younger brother Raul. The arrangement is expected to last for several weeks while Fidel Castro recuperates.

June 3, 2007 - Castro is shown on Cuban TV standing and greeting a visitor.

October 29, 2007 - Castro publishes his autobiography "My Life" in Great Britain. The book is made up of a series of interviews done with journalist Ignacio Ramonet. The book is released in the U.S. in early 2008.

February 19, 2008 - Due to ailing health, Castro announces his resignation as president in a letter published in the middle of the night in the online version of Cuba's state-run newspaper, Granma.

December 4, 2008 - In an essay, writes that Cuba would be willing to talk with President Barack Obama's administration.

March 22, 2011 - In an essay published in Cuban state media, Fidel Castro writes that he resigned as head of the Communist party when he fell ill on July 31, 2006, and never tried to resume his position.

February 3, 2012 - Fidel Castro releases a two volume memoir of his life, "Fidel Castro Ruz: Guerrilla of Time," based on conversations with the journalist Katiuska Blanco.

October 22, 2012 - The Cuban government steps up efforts to prove Castro is still in good health. Former Venezuelan Vice President Elias Jaua claims to have met with Castro and shows reporters a photo of the two of them together. The state-run media also publishes an article under Castro's name where he denounces the rumors.

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