Born in Holguin Province on August 13, 1926, Fidel began to be interested in international events from a young age since he closely followed the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) and the military and political battles of World War II (1939-1945). Since his admission to the University of Havana in 1945 as a Law student, Fidel began his revolutionary struggle against the corrupt governments of the time and for a change that would liberate Latin America from U.S. submission.
Fidel integrated the Puerto Rico Independence Committee, participated in the Key Confites expedition against the Dominican Dictator Rafael Leonidas in 1947, and collaborated with the Colombian people in fighting the reactionary forces that murdered popular leader Jorge Eliecer Gaitan. During his university years, he supported the sovereignty of Panamanians over their canal and the Argentine autonomy over the Falkland Islands.
On July 26, 1953, Fidel led the attack on the Moncada Barracks in Santiago de Cuba to overthrow Fulgencio Batista's dictatorship (1952-1959). Although the action was a military failure, it laid the foundations for the later development of the guerrilla struggle in the Sierra Maestra. In his trial for the assault, Fidel assumed his self-defense with a historic speech known as "History Will Absolve Me," in which he established the political program towards of the future revolutionary State.
"The Cuban foreign policy will be of close solidarity with democratic countries and people persecuted by the bloody tyrannies that oppress brother nations. Cuba will be a bulwark of freedom and not a shameful link of despotism," he stated.
After the revolutionary triumph on January 1, 1959, Fidel made these commitments a reality. Besides sending millions of Cuban fighters to support the national liberation movements in Angola and Ethiopia, he supported the economic recovery of the Vietnamese people after their heroic resistance to the U.S. invasion, and offered political asylum to the victims of Augusto Pinochet's dictatorship (1976-1990).
Fidel also made Cuba an example for other peoples fighting for social justice, such as the Nicaraguan and Venezuelan people who developed the Sandinista and Bolivarian revolution, respectively. Regarding relations with the United States and the Western capitalist countries, Fidel brought his capacity for tactical flexibility, dialogue, and the possibility of cooperation based on mutual respect without renouncing to dignity and freedom.
"Cuba's solidarity with the oppressed peoples of the world is not negotiable!" he stated before the United States, which proposed to improve relations with Cuba in exchange for the Island's renunciation of the principles of proletarian internationalism. Later, Fidel supported the creation of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) in the face of the Americas Free Trade Area (FTAA), with which the U.S. sought to strengthen its regional hegemony.
In meetings of international relevance, the Cuban leader condemned the capitalist and imperialist system and the cultural colonialism it generates. He denounced the U.S. disrespect for international law and the Latin American countries' unjust foreign debts.
On Nov.25, 2016, Fidel died aged 90 in his residence in Havana. In referring to him, former Bolivian President Evo Morales said that the world recognizes his leadership as an epic unattainable to all humanity. Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez also said that Fidel was the "Caesar of dignity and socialism, a father, a companion."