Raul Castro Fast Facts

Here's a look at the life of Cuban leader Raul Castro.

Birth date:
June 3, 1931

Birth place: Biran, Cuba

Birth name: Raul Modesto Castro Ruz

Father: Angel Castro, a wealthy Spanish landowner

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

Marriage: Vilma Espin (1959-2007, her death)

Children: Mariela; Nilsa; Deborah; Alejandro

Education: Attended University of Havana

1953 -
Attempts, along with his older brother Fidel, to overthrow the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista, after which both are sentenced to 15 years in prison. They are released less than two years later as part of an amnesty for political prisoners. Both go into exile in Mexico and the United States.

January 1, 1959 - The Castros successfully overthrow the Batista government.

January 1959 - Three weeks after taking power, Fidel states that Raul is to be his successor, telling supporters: "Behind me are others more radical than I." It is not made legal until 1997.

October 1959 - After Fidel Castro becomes the first communist leader in the Western Hemisphere, he appoints Raul to several prominent roles in his government including defense minister.

April 1961 - His troops defeat the CIA-led Bay of Pigs invasion.

1962 - Becomes deputy prime minister.

July 1962 - In a visit to the Soviet Union, Raul is promised missiles. This development leads to the U.S.-Soviet Missile crisis.

1970s - Is deeply involved in the military conflicts in Angola and Ethiopia.

1972 - Appointed first deputy prime minister (later called vice president).

1991 - Is very involved with saving Cuba from extreme financial crisis after the fall of the Soviet Union.

October 1997 - Cuba's Communist Party officially designates Raul as Fidel's successor should he die or be unable to perform his duties.

2000 - Assumes a high profile role in the fight to return Elian Gonzalez to Cuba from Florida.

2001 - In an interview with Cuban state television, Raul states, "I am among those who believe that it would be in imperialism's interest to try, with our irreconcilable differences, to normalize relations as much as possible during Fidel's life." He later implies that he will be more difficult to deal with than Fidel.

July 31, 2006 - For the first time in his 47-year presidency, his brother Fidel temporarily hands over power to Raul while undergoing intestinal surgery.

February 19, 2008 - Fidel Castro, in a letter, resigns from office as "President of the Council of State and Commander in Chief" of Cuba. This leaves the way open for the next National Assembly meeting, in five days, to select Raul as Cuba's new official leader.

February 24, 2008 - Chosen by Cuba's National Assembly to be the country's new president.

April 28, 2008 - Announces there will be a Communist Party Congress, the first since 1997. He also commutes most of the death row prison sentences to 30 years to life. Because of several delays and postponements, the congress does not actually meet until April 2011.

December 13, 2008 - Makes first international trip as president, visiting Venezuela's president Hugo Chavez.

March 2, 2009 - Reorganizes his Cabinet, replacing long-time aides to his brother Fidel.

April 6, 2009 - Meets with visiting members of the U.S. Congressional Black Caucus.

March 22, 2011 - Fidel Castro says that he resigned all his state and political positions, including head of the Communist Party, on July 31, 2006, and never tried to resume his positions.

April 16, 2011 - Opens the long-delayed Communist Party congress by declaring leaders should be limited to two five-year terms in office.

April 19, 2011 - Cuba's Communist Party elects President Raul Castro to succeed his older brother Fidel Castro as head of the country's highest political body and only legal party.

March 27, 2012 - Raul Castro meets privately with Pope Benedict XVI during the pontiff's visit to Cuba. Castro agrees to the Pope's request to make Good Friday on April 6, 2012 a national holiday. It is only the second time since 1959 that the government has recognized a religious holiday.

February 24, 2013 - Is re-elected to a second five-year term. Later during a nationally televised speech, Castro announces that he will step down from power in 2018 when his term is over.