Raúl Castro, brother of Fidel Castro, was one of the original members of the 26th of July Movement that organized the successful overthrow of Fulgencio Batista in 1959. While a student at the University of Havana, Raúl was attracted to Marxism and became a member of the Juventud Socialista, an affiliate of the Moscow-oriented Partido Socialista Popular. In 1953, while still a university student, Raúl attended the Soviet-sponsored World Youth Congress in Vienna, followed by a trip behind the Iron Curtain.
Upon his return from Europe, Raúl became involved in his brother's campaign to oust Batista from power and, like his brother, did not believe that it could be accomplished by constitutional means. They shared similar ideas about removing the extensive U.S. economic influence in Cuba. Raúl also has continually called for the U.S. withdrawal from the naval base at Guantánamo. He joined Fidel in the ill-fated attacks upon the Moncada barracks in 1953, and together they left Cuba in 1955 for Mexico, where they continued to plot Batista's overthrow. Raúl returned to Cuba with Fidel in December 1956 to take up the battle. Once in the mountains, however, Raúl fought Batista's terror with equal ferociousness to the displeasure of his brother.
In the immediate aftermath of the Revolution, Raúl directed the summary trials and executions of hundreds of Batista supporters. Subsequently, he became Minister of the Revolutionary Armed Forces, which gave him ministerial rank and a place in the cabinet. He received military training in the Soviet Union and reportedly played a prominent role in convincing the Soviets to place missiles in Cuba in 1962. In the 1970s and 1980s, he repeatedly visited the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc countries. Over time Raúl expanded his political power as president of the Agrarian Reform Institute, minister of interior, minister of public health, and the secretariat to the president. He played a key role in creating a Soviet-style bureauacry and enjoyed Moscow's confidence as an efficient administrator.
With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and concomitant economic crisis in Cuba, the military increased its prominence in various economic activities, including manufacturing and tourism. Once considered a ideologue, Raúl has shown greater flexibility since 1991 by endorsing limited capitalist foreign investment and market incentives. Despite his political power, Raúl does not posses his brother's charisma, leading many analysts to conclude that he will not be able to successfully follow Fidel, despite designated to do so at the Fifth Communist Party Congress in October 1997. See also Fidel; Castro Ruz, Revolution
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On January 1, 1959, members of Fidel Castro's 26th of July Movement entered Havana, marking the collapse of Fulgencio Batista's regime. Castro's...