Fidel Castro, from Student Gangster to Autocrat / Ivan Garcia

hoto of Fidel Castro by Gilberto Ante taken in 1960

Ivan Garcia, 13 August 2015 — When Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz turns 89 today, probably after the toast, the Cuban caudillo will take time to remember his hectic life.

To come to know Castro’s true profile, not the eyewash sold to us by the historiography of the regime, will be a monumental task of historians, academics and psychologists after his death.

Angel Castro, his father, was a Spanish soldier who fought against the Liberation Army. After settling in Cuba he became a landowner, entrepreneur and cheat who, every night, openly and illegally ran a fence around his property.

Castro studied in primary and secondary in schools in Santiago de Cuba. When he was 12 he wrote a letter in English to the president of the United States, Franklin D. Roosevelt. For ten dollars he offered to supply some information about deposits of nickel in eastern Europe that could be used in the manufacture of aircraft and funds for the US Navy in World War II.

His personal life hides points of interest for any psychiatrist. Castro should have passed through the attic of a psychologist to try to cure his megalomania. perhaps it would have saved Cuba and Cubans from some nonsense.

He arrived in Havana in 1942, in the middle of the Second World War, to get his degree at the Jesuit college of Belen, in the Marianao neighborhood, west of the city. He was chosen as best athlete of the year for 1943-1944. He finished his degree in June of 1045, along with his future brother-in-law, Rafael Diaz-Balart, his best friend of the time and later his bitter enemy.

It is at this stage that his passion for oratory began. The Socialist People’s Party, under the aegis of the Kremlin, called him a “reckless screw-off and petty bourgeoisie,” following his blunders in a debate on public and private debate at Belen College and later after his failed assault on the Moncada Barracks.

He entered the University of Havana on 4 September 1945. His academic life was characterized by his almost total absence in the classrooms. Beginning in the third year, Castro dedicated special intensity to his academic work, enrolling in three majors (Law, Diplomatic Law and Social Sciences) with the intention of obtaining a scholarship to study in Europe or the United States.

It was during that period when he engaged in some university gangs with marked gangster tendencies. They were groups of violent your anarchists. The resolved their differences with gunfire. There is evidence that they acted as henchmen for the corrupt institutions of the Republican government.

With the generous allowance from his father in Biran, Fidel bought a car. He led a dissipated life in the capital, where he spent more time in cages and informal gatherings than in the classroom.

After Fulgencio Batista’s coup in the spring of 1952, Fidel Castro organized an armed group to overthrow him. His devotion to weapons and the stories of war led him to plot the assault on a military fortress in Santiago de Cuba to found a movement with terrorist tactics, with bombings in public places, hijackings and celebrities like the Argentine race driver, Juan Manuel Fangio.

The attack on the Moncada Barracks was a badly planned military action that cost the lives of 70 young men, between those lost in combat and those later assassinated by the Batista army.

He was tried and sentenced to 15 years. In prison, according to his own account, he smoke tobacco, ate spaghetti and read many books. He received very different treatment from that he later meted out to Cuban political prisoners.

After an amnesty, he was released in 1954. In Mexico he prepared an expedition with 82 men to overthrow Batista. In January of 1959, after two years of guerrilla skirmishes, Fidel Castro came to power.

And he pulled all sorts of promises of democracy out of his hat. Progressively, he began to govern as an autocrat. He ordered the executions of his opponents, allowed trials without judicial guarantees, closed newspapers and magazines, abolished free expression, curtailed political freedom, confiscated private business and allied himself with Soviet communism.

The “bearded one”ruled to the rhythm of military mobilizations and the economy of the barracks. He became angry when Khrushchev negotiated a peaceful solution to the October 1962 Missile Crisis. Castro argued for the epic. Immolating himself for the homeland, socialism and the New Man. As the jihadists are doing today in the name of Islam.

He directed the war in Angola from a house in Nuevo Vedado, sitting in an armchair of black leather, moving miniature tanks, canons and troops in a giant model.

He destroyed the Cuban economy, agriculture, livestock, fishing… The litany of crazy promises is extensive. It’s unthinkable that one person is capable of causing so many disasters. Fidel Castro managed it.