Test Your Knowledge of Fidel Castro

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What was the name of the Cuban revolutionary group that Fidel Castro established?

The 26th of July Movement

What was the result of the Bay of Pigs Invasion in 1961?

Castro successfully repelled the invasion

What was the main principle behind the one-party state that Fidel Castro created in Cuba?

Democratic centralism

What was the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962?

A political and military standoff between the US and the Soviet Union over the installation of nuclear missiles in Cuba

What was the Great Revolutionary Offensive proclaimed by Fidel Castro in 1968?

A campaign to close all remaining privately owned shops and businesses

What was the result of Cuba's economic policies in the early years of Fidel Castro's presidency?

Productivity decreased, and the country's financial reserves were drained within two years

What was Fidel Castro's stance on the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons?

He refused to sign it, declaring it a Soviet-US attempt to dominate the Third World

What was the Tri-Continental Conference of Africa, Asia and Latin America held in Havana in 1966?

A conference organized by Fidel Castro to establish Cuba as a significant player on the world stage

What was the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas, formed by Fidel Castro in the 2000s?

An alliance of leftist governments in Latin America

Study Notes

Fidel Castro was a Cuban revolutionary and politician who led Cuba from 1959 to 2008, serving as the prime minister of Cuba from 1959 to 1976 and president from 1976 to 2008. He was the first secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba from 1961 until 2011. Under his administration, Cuba became a one-party communist state, with nationalized industry and socialist reforms implemented throughout society. Castro was born in Birán, Cuba, the son of a wealthy Spanish farmer and adopted leftist and anti-imperialist ideas while studying law at the University of Havana. After participating in rebellions against right-wing governments in the Dominican Republic and Colombia, he planned the overthrow of Cuban President Fulgencio Batista, launching a failed attack on the Moncada Barracks in 1953. After Batista's overthrow in 1959, Castro assumed military and political power as Cuba's prime minister. The United States unsuccessfully attempted to remove him by assassination, economic embargo, and counter-revolution, including the Bay of Pigs Invasion of 1961. Countering these threats, Castro aligned with the Soviet Union and allowed the Soviets to place nuclear weapons in Cuba, resulting in the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. Castro converted Cuba into a one-party, socialist state under Communist Party rule, the first in the Western Hemisphere, introducing central economic planning and expanding healthcare and education while suppressing internal dissent. Abroad, Castro supported anti-imperialist revolutionary groups, backing the establishment of Marxist governments in Chile, Nicaragua, and Grenada, as well as sending troops to aid allies in the Yom Kippur, Ogaden, and Angolan Civil War. Following the Dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, Castro led Cuba through the economic downturn of the "Special Period," embracing environmentalist and anti-globalization ideas. In the 2000s, Castro forged alliances in the Latin American "pink tide" and formed the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas. In 2006, Castro transferred his responsibilities to Vice President Raúl Castro, who was elected to the presidency by the National Assembly in 2008. The longest-serving non-royal head of state in the 20th and 21st centuries, Castro polarized opinion throughout the world.Fidel Castro's Rise to Power

  • Fidel Castro led an attack on the Moncada Barracks in Santiago de Cuba in 1953, which failed but helped him gain national attention and support.

  • Castro and his supporters were arrested and put on trial, during which he acted as his own defence counsel and delivered a speech that would be printed under the title of History Will Absolve Me.

  • Castro was sentenced to 15 years' imprisonment but was released in 1955 after an amnesty was granted.

  • Castro established the 26th of July Movement and formed a school for prisoners while in jail, and read widely.

  • After his release, Castro toured the US in search of wealthy sympathizers and established an 11-person National Directorate.

  • Castro and his comrades fled to Mexico, where he befriended Ernesto "Che" Guevara and Alberto Bayo, who agreed to teach Castro's rebels the necessary skills in guerrilla warfare.

  • The group purchased the decrepit yacht Granma and set sail for Cuba, where they ran aground and were repeatedly attacked by Batista's troops.

  • Castro's guerrillas increased their attacks on military outposts, forcing the government to withdraw from the Sierra Maestra region, and by spring 1958, the rebels controlled a hospital, schools, a printing press, slaughterhouse, land-mine factory, and a cigar-making factory.

  • Batista was under increasing pressure, and the US government ceased supplying him with weaponry. The opposition called a general strike, accompanied by armed attacks from the MR-26-7.

  • Batista fled into exile on 31 December 1958, and Castro proclaimed himself Representative of the Rebel Armed Forces of the Presidency and set up a provisional government.

  • Castro helped to set up many trials, resulting in hundreds of executions, but critics argued that many were not fair trials.

  • Castro consolidated his power and became Prime Minister of Cuba in 1959, and began implementing policies to cut corruption and fight illiteracy while suppressing political opposition.Fidel Castro's Rise to Power and the Establishment of "Socialist Cuba"

  • Fidel Castro rose to power in Cuba after leading a successful revolution against President Fulgencio Batista in 1959.

  • After coming to power, Castro implemented land reforms, nationalized industries, and redistributed wealth, which was popular among the working class but alienated the richer landowners.

  • Castro's government also focused on social projects, including education, healthcare, and infrastructure improvements, but productivity decreased, and the country's financial reserves were drained within two years.

  • In 1960, Cuba established relations with several Marxist-Leninist states, including the Soviet Union, and began trading with them, leading to strained relations with the US.

  • In April 1961, the US supported a CIA plan to invade Cuba and overthrow Castro, resulting in the Bay of Pigs Invasion, which Castro successfully repelled.

  • Following the invasion, Castro declared that his government was socialist and consolidated power, creating a one-party state based on the Leninist principle of democratic centralism.

  • Castro's government persecuted political opponents, perceived social deviants, and gay men, whom he considered a bourgeois trait.

  • By 1962, Cuba's economy was in steep decline, resulting in food shortages, rationing, and protests.

  • Despite economic difficulties, Castro received support from the Soviet Union, which offered economic and military aid.

  • In 1962, the US successfully pushed the Organization of American States to expel Cuba, leading to further isolation.

  • Castro continued to lead Cuba until his retirement in 2008, leaving a legacy of socialist policies, political repression, and strained relations with the US.

  • Castro died in 2016, with his death sparking mixed reactions, with some praising him as a revolutionary hero, while others criticized him for human rights abuses and political repression.Fidel Castro's Presidency: Cuban Missile Crisis, Third World Politics, and Foreign Wars

  • Fidel Castro removed the most prominent "Old Communists" from office in March 1962, labeling them "sectarian".

  • Castro agreed to allow the installation of Soviet nuclear missiles on Cuba in order to even the power balance with NATO, sparking the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962.

  • Khrushchev agreed to remove the missiles in exchange for a US commitment not to invade Cuba and an understanding that the US would remove their MRBMs from Turkey and Italy, leaving Castro feeling betrayed.

  • Castro continued to call for global revolution and supported militant leftists and national liberation struggles, including sending troops and medics to aid socialist regimes in Africa and allowing revolutionary groups to train in Cuba.

  • Castro staged a Tri-Continental Conference of Africa, Asia and Latin America in Havana in 1966, further establishing himself as a significant player on the world stage.

  • Castro refused to sign the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, declaring it a Soviet-US attempt to dominate the Third World and suggesting that Cuban society could evolve straight to pure communism.

  • Castro proclaimed a Great Revolutionary Offensive in 1968, closing all remaining privately owned shops and businesses.

  • Cuba's economy grew in 1974 as a result of high international sugar prices and new credits with Argentina, Canada, and Western Europe.

  • Castro ordered 230 military advisers into Angola in November 1975 to aid Neto's Marxist MPLA in the Angolan Civil War and later sent 18,000 troops to Angola.

  • Castro extended support to Latin American revolutionary movements, namely the Sandinista National Liberation Front in its overthrow of the Nicaraguan rightist government of Anastasio Somoza Debayle in July 1979.

  • Cuba's relations with North American states improved during the period with Mexican President Luis Echeverría, Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, and US President Jimmy Carter in power.

  • Carter adopted a respectful approach which gained Castro's attention, and Castro freed certain political prisoners and allowed some Cuban exiles to visit relatives on the island.

How well do you know Fidel Castro? Test your knowledge with our quiz that covers the rise to power, establishment of socialist Cuba, and presidency of the Cuban revolutionary. From the failed attack on Moncada Barracks to the Cuban Missile Crisis, learn about Castro's political and military strategies, his socialist policies, and his foreign alliances with Marxist-Leninist states. This quiz will challenge your understanding of one of the most polarizing figures of the 20th and 21st centuries.

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