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Monday, April 16, 2018, 18:44
Cuba's Castro brothers through the years
By Associated Press
Monday, April 16, 2018, 18:44 By Associated Press

In this March 14, 1957 file photo, Fidel Castro, the young anti-Batista guerrilla leader, center, is seen with his brother Raul Castro, left, and Camilo Cienfuegos, while operating in the mountains of eastern Cuba. Fidel led his scruffy young guerrillas to an improbable victory in 1959, embraced Soviet-style communism and defied the power of 10 US presidents, with Raul always at his side. (ANDREW ST. GEORGE / AP)

HAVANA — The men who have run Cuba for nearly six decades began life in a remote, rural part of the island known as Biran, sons of a wealthy farmer.

Both Fidel and Raul Castro turned to radical politics at a young age as they went to school first in the eastern city of Santiago, later at the University of Havana.

They burst into prominence in 1953 leading a quixotic, failed attack on the Moncada military barracks in Santiago hoping to topple the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista. Both were imprisoned, were freed in an amnesty and went into exile in Mexico, where they organized a guerrilla band that returned to Cuba by boat, the Granma, in 1956.

Despite initial setbacks, the bearded guerrillas operating in the eastern mountains steadily gained support across the country. On Jan 1, 1959, Batista fled and Fidel Castro became the unquestioned leader of Cuba, with his younger brother put in charge of the armed forces.

Fidel Castro's government initially executed or imprisoned many foes, and veered to Soviet-backed socialism in the early 1960s. Cuba backed revolutions across Latin America, and while most of those failed, the Castros' resistance to US domination inspired millions across the continent and beyond.

Fidel Castro's control survived repeated U.S. plots to overthrow or kill him, and even the hardships that followed the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, which had kept the island's economy afloat. But illness finally forced Fidel to turn over power in 2006 to Raul, who formally became president two years later.

Fidel died in 2016 and Raul, who turns 87 in June, has announced that he will step aside as president this month — though he plans to remain in what is probably a more important position: head of Cuba's lone permitted party, the Communist Party.

This combination of two file photos shows Fidel Castro smoking a cigar in Havana on April 29, 1961, left, and his brother Raul Castro, right, in an undisclosed location in Cuba in 1959. The brothers overcame imprisonment at the hands of dictator Fulgencio Batista, exiled in Mexico and survived a disastrous start to their rebellion before triumphantly riding into Havana on January 1959. At age 32, Fidel became the youngest leader in Latin America and put his younger brother Raul in charge of the armed forces. (PHOTO / AP)

In this Jan 2, 1966 file photo, Cuban Prime Minister Fidel Castro, right, President Osvaldo Dorticos, center, and Armed Forces Chief, Commander Raul Castro, watch a military parade commemorating the 7th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution in Havana, Cuba. Dorticos, who was named Cuba's president in 1959, resigned in 1976. Fidel officially became Cuba's president and established a successor role of first vice president for his younger brother Raul. (PHOTO / AP)

In this April 21, 1981 file photo, Cuba's Defense Minister Raul Castro, from left, front, his brother President Fidel Castro and Daniel Ortega, coordinator of the Junta of National Reconstruction of Nicaragua, attend a celebration marking the 20th anniversary of the failed military invasion Bay of Pigs, in Havana, Cuba. The Castro brothers backed revolutionary movements in many parts of Latin America, but most crumbled. An exception was Ortega's Nicaragua where Cuban-inspired revolutionaries toppled the Somoza dictatorship in 1979. (CHARLES TASNADI / AP)

Fidel Castro's control survived repeated US plots to overthrow or kill him, and even the hardships that followed the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, which had kept the island's economy afloat. But illness finally forced Fidel to turn over power in 2006 to Raul, who formally became president two years later.

Fidel died in 2016 and Raul, who turns 87 in June, has announced that he will step aside as president this month — though he plans to remain in what is probably a more important position: head of Cuba's lone permitted party, the Communist Party.


In this Nov 2, 1983 file photo, Cuban President Fidel Castro and his brother Raul, head of the Cuban Armed Forces, watch as the first group of Cubans returns home from Grenada, in Havana, Cuba. Raul, who has spent most of his life by the side of his larger-than-life brother, has always seemed more comfortable behind the scenes, chatting and joking with his soldiers rather than giving speeches and posing for photos. (CHARLES TASNADI / AP)

In this Feb 8, 1986 file photo, Cuban President Fidel Castro, left, joins hands with his younger brother Raul Castro, chief of the Cuban Armed Forces and first vice president, after the two were reelected in the Third Cuban Communist Party Congress session in Havana, Cuba. Fidel ruled for nearly five decades as Cuba's "Maximum Leader" until he was sidelined by an illness in 2006. Raul, long constitutionally the designated successor as first vice president, was given temporary powers as president and head of the ruling Communist Party, formally becoming president two years later in 2008. (CHARLES TASNADI / AP)

In this April 3, 1989 file photo, Cuban President Fidel Castro and his brother, Defense Minister Gen. Raul Castro, left, escort Soviet Union President Mikhail Gorbachev during a welcoming ceremony at the airport, in Havana, Cuba. In the heyday of Soviet aid to Cuba, the socialist state was a paternalistic presence that provided modest but comfortable lives to virtually everyone on the island. But life in Cuba changed dramatically after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 resulting in a crisis known as the Special Period. (J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE / AP)

In this April 13, 2000 file photo, Cuban President Fidel Castro and his brother Raul Castro, first vice president and head of the Cuban Armed Forces, wait for heads of state at an official lunch for visiting leaders of the Group 77 Summit in Havana, Cuba. The brothers rarely appeared in public together and even less out of military uniform. (JOSE GOITIA / AP)

In this Dec 20, 2001 file photo, Cuban leader Fidel Castro delivers a speech seated next to his brother, Defense Minister and first Vice President Raul Castro, during a final session at the National Assembly, in Havana, Cuba. Fidel’s nearly five-decade rule as Cuba's "Maximum Leader" was characterized by meandering, hours-long speeches, unquestioned decisions and micromanagement of government programs and policies. (JOSE GOITIA / AP)

In this Nov 2, 2002 file photo, Cuban President Fidel Castro, left, seated next to his brother Defense Minister Raul Castro and first Vice President, speaks during the inauguration of the ninth session of the National Assembly, in Havana, Cuba. Fidel’s commitment to socialism never wavered. (CRISTOBAL HERRERA / AP)

This July 19, 2003 file photo shows the 1953 mug shots of Fidel Castro, left, and his brother Raul, framed and on display at the Siboney Museum, the former farmhouse where they planned the attack on the Moncada military barracks, near Santiago, Cuba. The two were arrested and tried after the failed attack. Fidel turned his trial defense into a manifesto that he smuggled out of jail, famously declaring, “History will absolve me.” Freed in an amnesty, the two brothers fled to Mexico and began recruiting a tiny rebel army. (JOSE GOITIA / AP)

In this Dec 22, 2006 file photo, Cuba's acting President Raul Castro sits next to the chair usually occupied by his older brother Fidel Castro, at a parliament year-end session in Havana, Cuba. A severe gastrointestinal illness in 2006 nearly killed Fidel, forcing him to turn power over to his younger brother. (JAVIER GALEANO / AP)

In this Feb 24, 2012 file photo, Fidel Castro attends a National Assembly session in which his brother Cuba's President Raul Castro accepted a new presidential term with the caveat that it would be his last, in Havana, Cuba. Islanders and exiles alike were given a date at the session for when the sun will set on brothers Fidel and Raul's longtime rule: 2018. (ISMAEL FRANCISCO/CUBADEBATE VIA AP)

This April 19, 2016 file photo shows a rare public appearance by Fidel Castro, supported by Cuban President Raul Castro, right, and second secretary of the Central Committee, Jose Ramon Machado Ventura, at the closing ceremonies of the 7th Congress of the Cuban Communist Party, in Havana, Cuba. Castro came to say goodbye to the Communist Party he put in power a half-century ago, telling party members he would soon die and exhorting them to help his ideas survive. (ISMAEL FRANCISCO/CUBADEBATE VIA AP)

This June 10, 2016 file photo shows a family photograph of the Castro brothers, from left, Fidel, Raul and Ramon, on the wall of the room they shared as children in Biran, Cuba. Biran is the birthplace of revolutionary leader Fidel Castro and his brother, President Raul Castro. Their father Angel planted and sold sugarcane and timber as well as raising cattle deep in the lush green hill country of Holguin province in eastern Cuba. (RAMON ESPINOSA / AP)

In this Dec 3, 2016 file photo, women hold a portrait of the late Fidel Castro, and of his brother Cuba's President Raul Castro, as they wait to see the arrival of the caravan transporting Fidel's ashes from Havana, in Santiago, Cuba. The caravan was fraught with symbolism as the island nation buried the only leader it had known besides his younger brother, Raul, in 57 years. (RICARDO MAZALAN / AP)

In this Dec 4, 2016 file photo, Cuba's President Raul Castro receives the ashes of his older brother Fidel Castro from an honor guard before placing them into a niche in his tomb, at the Santa Ifigenia cemetery in Santiago, Cuba. The tomb stands to the side of a memorial to the rebel soldiers killed in an attack that the Castros led on Santiago's Moncada barracks on July 26, 1953. (MARCELINO VAZQUEZ HERNANDEZ/ACN VIA AP)

In this Jan 20, 2017 file photo, a man watches President Donald Trump's inauguration speech on television, backdropped by a wall adorned with images of Cuba's President Raul Castro, top right, Fidel Castro, top center, and Camilo Cienfuegos, in Havana, Cuba. The Castro brothers burst into prominence in 1953 leading a quixotic, failed attack on the Moncada military barracks in Santiago hoping to topple the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista. (RAMON ESPINOSA / AP)


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