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Raúl Castro: Six decades of revolution

Written by The Frontier Post

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Raúl Castro has stepped down as first secretary of Cuba’s Communist Party.

The move means that for the first time in more than five decades, the party – which has ruled the island since the party’s formation in 1965 – is not led by either Raúl Castro or his late brother, Fidel.

Fidel Castro led the revolution that toppled the Cuban government in 1959 and his younger brother Raúl was one of the commanders.

Born on 3 June 1931 and educated at a Jesuit school in the Cuban capital, Havana, Raúl Castro went on to study economics at university in Havana, where he joined a communist youth group.

In 1953, he helped his older brother, Fidel, plan and execute a failed attack on the Moncada military barracks in Santiago de Cuba in an attempt to oust Gen Fulgencio Batista.

He was sentenced to 13 years in prison for his part in the attack but was granted an amnesty in 1955 and went into exile in Mexico.

There, he befriended the Argentine revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevara and introduced him to Fidel Castro.

(L-R) Raul Castro and Ernesto (Che) Guevara. (Photo by Ben Martin/Getty Images) 1 January 1964
GETTY IMAGES – Raúl Castro and Che Guevara first met in Mexico

Raúl Castro returned to Cuba in December 1956 on board the ship Granma as one of his brother Fidel’s group of exiles known as the 26 July Revolutionary Movement.

They conducted a guerrilla warfare campaign from the Sierra Maestra mountains which led to the overthrow of Gen Batista’s government and forced Batista to flee.

(FILE) A 1959 photograph showing Commanders (L to R) Raul Castro, Antonio Nunez Jimenez, Ernesto "Che" Guevara, Juan Almeida and Ramiro Valdes in Havana during the first year of the Cuban revolution.
GETTY IMAGES – A 1959 photo shows Raúl Castro (left) with fellow revolutionaries, including Ernesto “Che” Guevara (third from left)

Fidel Castro was sworn in as prime minister and put Raúl in charge of the Revolutionary Armed Forces, a post he held until 2008.

Ernesto Che Guevara, Raul Castro (m) and his wife 1964 (Photo by Jung/ullstein bild via Getty Images)
ULLSTEIN BILD – Raúl Castro is joined by his wife (right) and Che Guevara (left)

Whether presiding over military parades or reading to Cubans in the countryside, he could most often be seen in his olive green uniform.

Raúl Castro talking with a family in Cuba in 1964. (Photo by Gilberto Ante/Roger Viollet via Getty Images)
IMAGE COPYRIGHT GETTY IMAGES
Rauel Castro talking with a family of countrymen. Cuba, 1964. (Photo by Gilberto Ante/Roger Viollet via Getty Images)

IMAGE COPYRIGHT GETTY IMAGES

The father of Fidel and Raúl Castro was a prosperous sugar cane farmer and Raúl would sometimes pose for photographs among fields of Cuba’s most important crop.

Castro cutting sugar cane. Cuba, 1970. (Photo by Gilberto Ante/Roger Viollet via Getty Images)

IMAGE COPYRIGHT GETTY IMAGES

In 1965, Raúl Castro assumed the post of second secretary of the Central Committee in the newly formed Communist Party of Cuba.

Fidel Castro and his brother Raul attend a May Day parade December 2, 1996 in Havana, Cuba. (Photo by Sven Creutzmann/Mambo Photography/Getty Images)
GETTY IMAGES – Fidel and Raúl Castro between them led Cuba for six decades

His older brother, Fidel, held the post of first secretary from 1965 until 2011, when he resigned and Raúl Castro assumed what is arguably the most influential position in Cuba.

Raul Castro, President of Cuba (R) tries to hold back his brother and Revolution leader Fidel Castro (L) from getting up, during the closing session of the 6th Party Congress after Raul Castro had been officially elected as Fidel Castro's successor as head of Cuba's ruling communist Party PCC in the Palacio de las Convenciones on April 19, 2011 in Havana, Cuba.(Photo by Sven Creutzmann/Mambo Photo/Getty Images)
GETTY IMAGES – Fidel Castro handed the reins of power over to his brother officially in 2011

While Raúl Castro has spent most of his life in the shadow of his brother Fidel, during his time as Cuba’s president – first in an acting capacity from 2006 and later officially from 2008 to 2018 – the younger Castro not only welcomed Pope Francis to the island in 2015…

Pope Francis walks with Cuba's President Raul Castro (R) as he arrives at Jose Marti International Airport on September 19, 2015 in Havana, Cuba.
GETTY IMAGES

…he also shook hands with US President Barack Obama in a gesture that signalled a thaw in the relations between the two countries in 2015.

US President Barack Obama (R) shakes hands with Cuba's President Raul Castro (L) on the sidelines of the Summit of the Americas at the ATLAPA Convention center on April 11, 2015 in Panama City. AFP PHOTO/MANDEL NGAN / AFP PHOTO / Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)
MANDEL NGAN

The two leaders would meet again in 2016 when Barack Obama joined Raúl Castro in the stands at a baseball game in Havana during the US leader’s landmark trip to the Communist island.

US President Barack Obama speaks next to Cuban President Raul Castro (R) during a Major League baseball exhibition game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Cuban national team at the Latinoamericano stadium in Havana on March 22, 2016. Obama praised the bravery of Cuban dissidents Tuesday in a meeting at the US embassy in Havana, although opponents back home dismissed the event as a "token" gesture. AFP PHOTO / Nicholas KAMM / AFP PHOTO / NICHOLAS KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images)
GETTY IMAGES

Following the death of Fidel Castro on 25 November 2016, it fell to his younger brother to place the urn containing the ashes in his tomb at the Santa Ifigenia cemetery in Santiago de Cuba.

Cuban President Raul Castro places the urn with the ashes of his brother Fidel Castro in his tomb at the Santa Ifigenia cemetery in Santiago de Cuba on December 4, 2016.
AFP

All pictures subject to copyright.

Courtesy: BBC

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