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Raúl Castro

Raúl Castro

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Raúl Modesto Castro Ruz (born 3 June 1931) is a Cuba
Cuba
The Republic of Cuba is an island nation in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba consists of the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the largest city in Cuba and the country's capital. Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city...

n politician and revolutionary who has been President of the Council of State of Cuba and the President of the Council of Ministers of Cuba
Council of Ministers of Cuba
The Cabinet of Cuba is the highest ranking executive and administrative body of the Republic of Cuba, and constitutes the nation's government...

 since 2008; he previously exercised presidential powers in an acting capacity from 2006 to 2008. Raúl Castro was a rebel commander during the 1950s; after his older brother, Fidel Castro
Fidel Castro
Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz is a Cuban revolutionary and politician, having held the position of Prime Minister of Cuba from 1959 to 1976, and then President from 1976 to 2008. He also served as the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba from the party's foundation in 1961 until 2011...

, took power, Raúl Castro was one of the most important figures in the new regime, serving as Minister of the Armed Forces from 1959 to 2008. As President, he is Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces (Army, Navy, and Air Force) and has also been First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba
Communist Party of Cuba
The Communist Party of Cuba is the governing political party in Cuba. It is a communist party of the Marxist-Leninist model. The Cuban constitution ascribes the role of the Party to be the "leading force of society and of the state"...

 (PCC) since 2011.

On 31 July 2006, Raúl Castro was designated as the President of the Council of State in a temporary transfer of power due to Fidel Castro's illness. According to the Cuban Constitution of 1976, Article 94, the First Vice President of the Council of State assumes presidential duties upon the illness or death of the president.

Raúl Castro was officially elected as President by the National Assembly on 24 February 2008, after Fidel Castro, who was still ailing, announced his intention not to stand for President again on 19 February 2008.

Raúl Castro was elected as First Secretary of the Communist Party at its Sixth Congress on April 19, 2011, having previously served as Second Secretary under his brother for 46 years.

Pre-1960


The son of a Spanish
Spanish people
The Spanish are citizens of the Kingdom of Spain. Within Spain, there are also a number of vigorous nationalisms and regionalisms, reflecting the country's complex history....

 immigrant father, Ángel Castro
Ángel Castro y Argiz
Ángel María Bautista Castro y Argiz was the father of Cuban leaders Fidel and Raúl Castro....

, and a Cuban mother of mixed ancestry, Lina Ruz, Raúl is the youngest of the three Castro brothers, Ramón, Fidel, and Raúl. He also has four sisters, Angela, Juanita
Juanita Castro
Juana de la Caridad Castro Ruz is a sister of former Cuban President Fidel Castro and current President Raúl Castro. After working as a CIA agent in Cuba, she has been living in the United States since 1964.-Early life:...

, Emma, and Agustina, and two half siblings, Lidia and Pedro Emilio, who were raised by Ángel Castro's first wife.

As youngsters, the Castro brothers were expelled from the first school they attended. Like Fidel, Raúl later attended the Jesuit School of Colegio Dolores in Santiago
Santiago de Cuba
Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city of Cuba and capital city of Santiago de Cuba Province in the south-eastern area of the island, some south-east of the Cuban capital of Havana....

 and Colegio Belén
Belen Jesuit Preparatory School
Belen Jesuit Preparatory School is a Roman Catholic preparatory school in Miami, Florida operated by The Society of Jesus. It was established in Cuba by the Jesuits in 1854, but moved to the United States after the communist government of Fidel Castro, himself an alumnus, took power and expelled...

 in Havana
Havana
Havana is the capital city, province, major port, and leading commercial centre of Cuba. The city proper has a population of 2.1 million inhabitants, and it spans a total of — making it the largest city in the Caribbean region, and the most populous...

. Raúl, as an undergraduate, studied social sciences. Whereas Fidel excelled as a student, Raúl's performance was mostly mediocre. Raúl was a committed socialist and joined the Socialist Youth, an affiliate of the Soviet-oriented Cuban Communist Party, Partido Socialista Popular (PSP).

The brothers participated actively in sometimes violent student actions.

In 1953, Raúl was a member of the 26th of July Movement
26th of July Movement
The 26th of July Movement was the revolutionary organization planned and led by Fidel Castro that in 1959 overthrew the Fulgencio Batista government in Cuba...

 that attacked the Moncada Barracks
Moncada Barracks
The Moncada Barracks was a military barracks in Santiago de Cuba, named after General Guillermón Moncada, a hero of the War of Independence. On July 26, 1953, the barracks was the site of an armed attack by a small group of revolutionaries led by Fidel Castro. This armed attack is widely accepted...

, and he spent 22 months in prison as a result of this action. During his exile in Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

, he participated in the preparations of the expedition of the boat Granma
Granma (yacht)
Granma is the yacht that was used to transport 82 fighters of the Cuban Revolution from Mexico to Cuba in 1956 for the purpose of overthrowing the regime of Fulgencio Batista. The 60-foot diesel-powered cabin cruiser was built in 1943 and designed to accommodate 12 people...

,
landing in Cuba on 2 December 1956.

A Commander in the Cuban Revolution


Raúl was one of the few survivors of the Granma landing. He was part of the tiny group of survivors who managed to reach a safe haven in the Sierra Maestra
Sierra Maestra
Sierra Maestra is a mountain range that runs westward across the south of the old Oriente Province from what is now Guantánamo Province to Niquero in southeast Cuba, rising abruptly from the coast. Some view it as a series of connecting ranges , which joins with others extending to the west...

 mountains (see the Cuban Revolution
Cuban Revolution
The Cuban Revolution was an armed revolt by Fidel Castro's 26th of July Movement against the regime of Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista between 1953 and 1959. Batista was finally ousted on 1 January 1959, and was replaced by a revolutionary government led by Castro...

). As Fidel's brother and trusted right-hand man, and given his proven leadership abilities during and after the Moncada attack, he was given progressively bigger commands. On February 27, 1958, Raúl was made comandante and assigned the mission to cross the old province of Oriente leading a column of guerrillas to open, to the northeast of that territory, the "Frank País
Frank País
Frank País was a Cuban revolutionary who campaigned for the overthrow of General Fulgencio Batista's government in Cuba...

 Eastern Front."

As a result of Raúl's "Eastern Front" operations he was not involved in the pivotal Operation Verano
Operation Verano
Operation Verano was the name given to the summer offensive in 1958 by the Batista government during the Cuban Revolution. The offensive was designed to crush Fidel Castro's revolutionary army, which had been growing in strength in the area of the Sierra Maestra hills since their arrival in Cuba...

 (which came close to destroying the main body of fighters but ended up a spectacular victory for Fidel). However, Raúl's forces remained active and grew over time.

By October 1958, after being reinforced by Fidel, the two brothers had about 2,000 fighters and they were operating freely throughout Oriente province. In December, while Che Guevara and Camilo Cienfuegos
Camilo Cienfuegos
Camilo Cienfuegos Gorriarán was a Cuban revolutionary born in Lawton, Havana. Raised in an anarchist family that had left Spain before the Spanish Civil War, he became a key figure of the Cuban Revolution, along with Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, Juan Almeida Bosque, and Raúl Castro.-Political...

 were operating around Santa Clara
Santa Clara, Cuba
Santa Clara is the capital city of the Cuban province of Villa Clara. It is located in the most central region of the province and almost in the most central region of the country.- History :Santa Clara was founded by 175 people on July 15th, 1689...

, Fidel and Raúl's army laid siege to Maffo (capturing it on December 30). Their victorious army then headed to Santiago de Cuba
Santiago de Cuba
Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city of Cuba and capital city of Santiago de Cuba Province in the south-eastern area of the island, some south-east of the Cuban capital of Havana....

, the capital of Oriente province.

In response to the victory by Che Guevara
Che Guevara
Ernesto "Che" Guevara , commonly known as el Che or simply Che, was an Argentine Marxist revolutionary, physician, author, intellectual, guerrilla leader, diplomat and military theorist...

 at the Battle of Santa Clara
Battle of Santa Clara
The Battle of Santa Clara was a series of events in late December 1958 that led to the capture of the Cuban city of Santa Clara by revolutionaries under the command of Che Guevara...

, the U.S.-backed President Fulgencio Batista
Fulgencio Batista
Fulgencio Batista y Zaldívar was the United States-aligned Cuban President, dictator and military leader who served as the leader of Cuba from 1933 to 1944 and from 1952 to 1959, before being overthrown as a result of the Cuban Revolution....

 fled Cuba in the early morning of 1 January 1959. The two Castro brothers with their army arrived on the outskirts of Santiago de Cuba and said their forces would storm the city at 6 PM January 1 if it did not first surrender. The commander (Colonel Rego Rubido) surrendered Santiago de Cuba without a fight. The war was over and Fidel was able to take power in Havana when he arrived on 8 January 1959.

Raúl's abilities as a military leader during the revolution are hard to see clearly. Unlike Che Guevara or Cienfuegos, Raúl had no significant victories he could claim credit for on his own. The last operations (which were clearly successful) were conducted with his older brother Fidel present (and in command).

After Batista's fall, Raúl was responsible for overseeing the summary execution of "scores" of soldiers loyal to deposed president Fulgencio Batista
Fulgencio Batista
Fulgencio Batista y Zaldívar was the United States-aligned Cuban President, dictator and military leader who served as the leader of Cuba from 1933 to 1944 and from 1952 to 1959, before being overthrown as a result of the Cuban Revolution....

.

Post-1959


Raúl Castro Ruz was a member of the National Leadership of the Integrated Revolutionary PO Organizations (established July 1961; dissolved March 1962) and of the United Party of the Socialist Revolution of Cuba (established March 1962; dissolved October 1965). He has been a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba and the Second Secretary of its Politburo since the Party's formation in October 1965; also, the First Vice President of the Cuban Council of State, of the National Assembly of the Popular Power and of the Council of Ministers
Council of Ministers of Cuba
The Cabinet of Cuba is the highest ranking executive and administrative body of the Republic of Cuba, and constitutes the nation's government...

 since these were created in 1976. He was appointed Minister of the Revolutionary Armed Forces when the Ministry was founded in October 1959 and served in that capacity until February 2008; he is also the nation's highest ranking general.

Temporary assumption of Presidential duties


On 31 July 2006, Fidel Castro's personal secretary Carlos Valenciaga announced on state-run television that Fidel Castro would provisionally hand over the duties of President of the Council of State of Cuba, President of the Council of Ministers of Cuba
Council of Ministers of Cuba
The Cabinet of Cuba is the highest ranking executive and administrative body of the Republic of Cuba, and constitutes the nation's government...

, First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba and Commander-in-Chief
Commander-in-Chief
A commander-in-chief is the commander of a nation's military forces or significant element of those forces. In the latter case, the force element may be defined as those forces within a particular region or those forces which are associated by function. As a practical term it refers to the military...

 of the Armed Forces to Raúl Castro while Fidel underwent and recovered from intestinal surgery to repair gastrointestinal bleeding
Gastrointestinal bleeding
Gastrointestinal bleeding or gastrointestinal hemorrhage describes every form of hemorrhage in the gastrointestinal tract, from the pharynx to the rectum. It has diverse causes, and a medical history, as well as physical examination, generally distinguishes between the main forms...

.

Many commentators consider Raúl Castro to be a political hardliner who will maintain the Communist Party of Cuba's influence in the country. However, there are others who believe that he is more pragmatic than his older brother and willing to institute some market-oriented economic policies. It is speculated that he favours a variant of the current Chinese political and economic model for Cuba in the hopes of preserving some elements of the socialist system. However, none of these speculations has ever been confirmed by Raúl himself.

Raúl is considered by some to be less charismatic than his brother Fidel Castro
Fidel Castro
Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz is a Cuban revolutionary and politician, having held the position of Prime Minister of Cuba from 1959 to 1976, and then President from 1976 to 2008. He also served as the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba from the party's foundation in 1961 until 2011...

, who remained largely out of public view during the transfer of duty period. His few public appearances included hosting a gathering of leaders of the Non-Aligned nations
Non-Aligned Movement
The Non-Aligned Movement is a group of states considering themselves not aligned formally with or against any major power bloc. As of 2011, the movement had 120 members and 17 observer countries...

 in September 2006, and leading the national commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Granma
Granma (yacht)
Granma is the yacht that was used to transport 82 fighters of the Cuban Revolution from Mexico to Cuba in 1956 for the purpose of overthrowing the regime of Fulgencio Batista. The 60-foot diesel-powered cabin cruiser was built in 1943 and designed to accommodate 12 people...

boat landing, which also became Fidel's belated 80th birthday celebrations.

In a speech to university students, Raúl stated that a communist system in Cuba would remain, and that "Fidel is irreplaceable, unless we all replace him together."

On 1 May 2007, Raúl presided over the May Day
May Day
May Day on May 1 is an ancient northern hemisphere spring festival and usually a public holiday; it is also a traditional spring holiday in many cultures....

 celebrations in Havana. According to Granma
Granma (newspaper)
Granma is the official newspaper of the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party.Its name comes from the yacht Granma that carried Fidel Castro and 81 other rebels to Cuba's shores in 1956 launching the Cuban Revolution.-Editions:...

 
the crowd reached over one million participants, with delegations from over 225 organizations and 52 countries.

Raúl is known for his businesslike, unanimated delivery of speeches.

President of Cuba


After assuming temporary control over the presidency, Raúl Castro was elected as the new president during a legislative session held at Cuba's Palace of Conventions in Havana. The 597 deputies unanimously elected a 31-member Council of State for a term of five years, which in turn elected Raul as president. His administration has since announced several economic reforms. In March 2008, the government removed restrictions against the purchase of numerous products not available under Fidel Castro's administration including DVD-players, computers, rice cookers and microwaves. In an effort to boost food production, the government turned over unused state-owned land to private farmers and cooperatives and moved much of the decision-making process regarding land use from the national level to the municipal level.

In mid-2008, the government overhauled the salary structure of all state-run companies so that harder-working employees could be rewarded with higher wages. In addition, the government has removed restrictions against the use of cell phones and is investigating travel restrictions on Cubans.

In regards to relations with the U.S., Raúl Castro said in an interview:

The American people are among our closest neighbors. We should respect each other. We have never held anything against the American people. Good relations would be mutually advantageous. Perhaps we cannot solve all of our problems, but we can solve a good many of them.


In March 2009, Raúl Castro dismissed some officials
2009 Cuban government dismissals
-Officials:* Foreign Minister Felipe Pérez Roque was dismissed on 2 March 2009. Fidel Castro then criticized him for love of power in a statement on 3 March, and Pérez Roque announced his resignation from all his party and state positions—membership on the Communist Party's Central Committee...

.

In April 2011 Raúl announced a plan of 300 economic reforms similar to the Chinese economic model, among them are the limitation of presidential mandates including himself, encouraging private initiative, reducing state spending, encouraging foreign investment and agrarian reforms.

Public and personal life


Castro married Vilma Espín, a former Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is a private research university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. MIT has five schools and one college, containing a total of 32 academic departments, with a strong emphasis on scientific and technological education and research.Founded in 1861 in...

 chemical engineering
Chemical engineering
Chemical engineering is the branch of engineering that deals with physical science , and life sciences with mathematics and economics, to the process of converting raw materials or chemicals into more useful or valuable forms...

 student and the daughter of a wealthy rum
Rum
Rum is a distilled alcoholic beverage made from sugarcane by-products such as molasses, or directly from sugarcane juice, by a process of fermentation and distillation. The distillate, a clear liquid, is then usually aged in oak barrels...

 distiller, on 26 January 1959. Vilma became president of the Cuban Federation of Women
Women in Cuba
In Cuba women have equal constitutional rights as men in the economic, political, cultural and social fields, as well as in the family. According to article 44 of the Cuban Constitution, the state guarantees women the same opportunities and possibilities as men, in order to achieve woman’s full...

. They have three daughters (Déborah, Mariela
Mariela Castro
Mariela Castro Espín is the director of the Cuban National Center for Sex Education in Havana and an activist for LGBT rights in Cuba....

 and Nilsa) and one son (Alejandro
Alejandro Castro Espín
Alejandro Castro Espín is a Cuban political and military figure. He has the rank of colonel in the Interior Ministry of Cuba...

) Castro Espín.
Their daughter Mariela currently heads the Cuban National Center for Sex Education
Cuban National Center for Sex Education
The National Center for Sex Education is a government-funded body in Cuba. The center is best known for advocating tolerance of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and transgender issues on the island...

, while Déborah is married to Colonel Luis Alberto Rodríguez, head of the Armed Forces' economic division. Vilma Espín died on 18 June 2007; a daughter and some relatives of Raúl are believed to reside in Italy.

In an interview in 2006, following his assumption of presidential duties, Raúl Castro commented on his public profile stating: "I am not used to making frequent appearances in public, except at times when it is required ... I have always been discreet, that is my way, and in passing I will clarify that I am thinking of continuing in that way".

In an interview with filmmaker, actor and activist Sean Penn
Sean Penn
Sean Justin Penn is an American actor, screenwriter and film director, also known for his political and social activism...

, Raúl Castro was described as "warm, open, energetic and sharp of wit".

External links




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