Raul Castro: biography
Raúl Modesto Castro Ruz stepped down as President in 2018. He was President of the Council of State of Cuba and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. He took office after his elder brother, revolutionary, politician and former Cuban leader Fidel Castro.
Childhood and youth
Raul Castro was born on June 3, 1931. His father Ángel Castro y Argiz owned the largest plantation of 92 square kilometers in the village of Biran (Holguín province in Cuba). The mother, Lina Ruz Gonzalez, brought up seven children. Raul was the fourth child and the youngest of three boys.
The future revolutionary studied at the Jesuit schools located in Santiago de Cuba and Havana. He graduated from the University of Havana with a degree in social sciences. When he was a student, Raul Castro was already a member of the Socialist Youth Union. The famous Fidel shared his brother's views in 1961, but before he had supported the ideology of nationalism.
Fidel and Raul Castro wanted to improve people’s life in Cuba. They joined the movement of the Orthodox Party and decided to overthrow the Batista regime. However, the party was not politically active, so the brothers with a group of associates attacked the Moncada Barracks in 1953 (Santiago de Cuba).
The assault on Moncada was unsuccessful. Fidel and Raul were arrested, sentenced to lengthy imprisonment (more than ten years). In 1955, the brothers were amnestied, and they migrated to Mexico. In 1956, an armed revolt against Fulgencio Batista began in Cuba. Fidel was the leader of the Rebel Army and appointed Raul comandante.
Raul got acquainted with Ernesto Che Guevara in Mexico City. In 1956, the boat Granma with the revolutionaries sailed to Cuba. Government troops detected some people, but the rest managed to reach a haven in the Sierra Maestra mountains. Raúl Castro led a powerful revolutionary movement. The number of his supporters was about four thousand people.
The Cuban revolution achieved the desired result. Batista was overthrown in 1959. In February 1959, Raul Castro was appointed the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, later Minister of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of the Republic of Cuba. A sound management style helped Raul achieve a 50,000-soldier increase in Army troop strength. Castro was Minister until 2008, setting a world record as the longest-serving Defense Minister.
Since 1961 Raul has been deputy chairman of the Central Planning Board. In 1962, Castro was the second secretary of the national leadership of the Integrated Revolutionary PO Organizations, and then the second secretary of the United Party of the Socialist Revolution of Cuba.
Before 1976, Raul Castro was the first deputy chairman of the Revolutionary Government of the Republic of Cuba. Under his leadership, the revolutionary armed forces were the most powerful in the Third World.
In 1991the economic crisis occurred in Cuba due to the fall of socialism. Upon the government decision, the country encouraged foreign investments (including tourism) and foreign exchange turnover. Raul Castro regulated the financial reforms in Cuba.
Fidel Castro’s brother is known for his sound economic policy. During the crisis, Raul’s decisions led to sharp market growth. Cubans were able to develop agriculture, grow any crops, sell products in private or government markets.
Raul Castro permitted to create markets where people sold surpluses of agricultural commodities. Due to the state reforms, people could start up their own business in the country.
During the last years of the presidency, the head of the Cuban state, Fidel Castro, stated that he would hand over the duties to Raul in case of resignation. In 1997, there was the fifth congress of the Communist Party of Cuba, where Raul was declared Fidel’s successor.
In 2006, Fidel Castro announced that he would step down from power and also introduced a new President of the Council of State of Cuba and the leader of Cuba. Fidel did not appear in public since then. Raul Castro took all state duties and responsibilities.
On February 24, 2008, Raul was elected as the new President of the Council of State at a legislative session. However, during the first years, the leader consulted Fidel on pivotal state issues.
Raul first announced an administrative reform and dismissed some officials of Cuba. The initial stage was marked by considerable liberalization: permission to use cell phones and microwaves, free access to the Internet. Farmers were allowed to lease idle state-owned land, and the owners of public housing could privatize it (not sell).
In 2013, the parliament named Raul Castro to a new five-year term as president. The leader appointed Miguel Bermúdez his first vice president. He also proposed an idea of one-term limits. He announced that he would step down from power after his second term as president ends. As the leader of the state, Raul developed socialism.
In 2013, a remarkable meeting between Raul Castro and Obama took place at the funeral of Nelson Mandela. In 2017, the leader announced the exact date of resignation, saying that a new president would appear in Cuba. Castro did not mention the name of the successor.
Castro met the future wife, Vilma Espín, during the revolutionary movement against Batista. In 1959 they married. Vilma gave birth to three daughters and a son (Mariela, Déborah, Nilsa, and Alejandro).
Vilma was the first lady of the Republic of Cuba for several years. In 2007, Raúl Castro's wife passed away.
Raúl Castro now
In April 2018, Raul Castro announced that he was going to resign as the President of the Council of State. On April 19, the leader announced Miguel Diaz-Canel as the successor.
In June, it became known that Raul Castro headed the parliamentary commission to rewrite the constitution. The new leader of the state, Miguel Diaz-Canel, appointed the commission. Castro already announced the plans to draft the constitution in 2016.
- Hero of the Republic of Cuba
- Order Maximo Gomez
- Order of Cienfuegos
- Order of the Liberator
- The combatant of the underground struggle
- Order of Elísio Reis
- Brothers in Arms
- Order of Lenin
- Order of the October Revolution
- Jubilee Medal "In Commemoration of the 100th Anniversary since the Birth of Vladimir Il'ich Lenin."