Fidel Castro (1926-present day), has been in control of Cuba since 1959, the year his revolution ended the military dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista. Fidel quickly established his government and made Cuba into the western hemisphere's first Communist state. He became famous for his passionate, anti-USA speeches. He was born near Mayari, Cuba under the name Fidel Castro Ruz. His father was an immigrant from Spain and owner of a small plantation. In 1950, Fidel got a law degree from the University of Havana. Afterwards, he opened a law firm based in Havana. Two years on he ran to be elected to the Cuban House of Representatives. However, prior to the election, Batista's troops stopped the election and abolished any form of democracy in Cuba.
As a result of Batista's maneuvers, Fidel initiated his first attempt at a revolution against Batista's dictatorship. July 26, 1953, Castro's rebels attacked the Moncada Army Base in the city of Santiago. Fidel was incarcerated for 15 years. However, Batista decided to release him in 1955. Fidel then created the 26th of July faction, a group of revolutionaries who took their name from the date of his first revolt. He then went underground, in exile in Mexico. It was here that he first met Che Guevara, his revolutionary chum. Castro's mercenaries went ashore in Cuba in the December of 1956. Many of the rebels died in action, and Fidel fled with the other survivors to the Sierra Maestra, a range of mountains in the southeastern corner of Cuba. People from the surrounding countryside quickly joined the rebels and Batista finally fled from Cuba on the 1st of January, 1959, and Fidel took control of the government.
Castro began to seize property owned by Americans in Cuba. In 1960, the Castro administration took control of all US oil refineries in Cuba. In response the US stopped buying Cuban sugar. Fidel responded by taking over every American business in Cuba.
Fidel has supported a number of revolutionary movements around the world in areas such as Africa, South America and Central America. The Castro government has improved education and healthcare for many Cuban citizens. But the economy has always remained unstable. In the early 60's, Cuba started to depend heavily on the USSR for economic support. When the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991, this support ended . Castro was adamant that Cuba would remain a Communist country. However, in the early 90's, sensing the economic problem, Fidel undertook a program of limited reform that loosened the states control over the country's economy. Throughout his administration Fidel has been closely helped by his brother Raul who he has named as his eventual successor. But for now he remains in control of Havana.