Interesting Facts about Fidel Castro

Fidel Castro may be one of the most recognizable figures in history, as he has made positive contributions to his country of Cuba, as well as having a negative impact in the world that resulted in him having many enemies not only outside Cuba but also in his territory. Despite the bad publicity surrounding Fidel Castro, there is no denying that his rule in Cuba for 47 years was quite successful, as Cuba rose as one of the best but notorious countries in the world.

While Castro is indeed popular, there are several things about him that are unknown to most people. To tackle these mysteries surrounding Castro’s personal life and career, here is a list of interesting facts about the infamous former prime minister of Cuba.

Castro’s Signature Cigar

If you searched for Fidel Castro’s photos when he was younger on Google, you would see that he usually has a cigar in his hand or in his mouth, and that cigar that he always carries became a distinguishable feature of his appearance. Before Castro even became known in the world of politics, Cuba was already famous for its high-quality cigars, which are made by people that are dedicated and passionate about the art of cigar making. As the prime minister of Cuba, Castro wanted to showcase one of the best products of his country, so he always makes sure that he has a cigar with him in public.

An interesting fact about the brand of cigar that he smokes is that it is owned by the friend of one of his bodyguards. That friend only made cigars privately to be given to family members and friends at first, but after the bodyguard gave Castro a sample of the cigar, Castro liked the product so much that he encouraged the friend to make more. In order to manufacture more cigars, Castro opened the El Laguito factory, which is also a way for him and the bodyguard’s friend to sell it to the public. The cigar would then be named “Cohiba Espléndidos,” and it remains a great brand even in today’s era.

Failed Assassination Plots

It is not surprising that Castro has many enemies due to the atrocious crimes he committed over the years, as well as his radical political views that inspire changes in how most countries should be governed. The enemies that Castro had collected during his tenure as prime minister continued to pile up until one of them had enough of Castro’s actions and wanted to make him an assassination target. This enemy is the US government, and with the help of US intelligence agencies, they have created several bold plots to assassinate Castro. Some of these assassination plots were soon discovered by Fabián Escalante, the former head of the Cuban Department of State Security.

According to Escalante, there is sufficient evidence that the US government tried many attempts to kill Castro, but all of these plots failed. Some of the peculiar plots include tainting Castro’s scuba diving wet suit with a fungus that causes severe diseases, gifting him a fountain pen that contains a poisonous needle that is activated upon use, giving cigars that explode upon exposure to flame, and planting a fake seashell that explodes underwater while Castro is scuba diving in his favorite spot.

Castro’s Relationships

Fidel Castro with microphones in front of him during a news interview

Fidel Castro was first married to Mirta Díaz-Balart, the daughter of Rafael José Díaz-Balart, who had connections with the Batista regime that served as the government of Cuba before Castro initiated the Cuban revolution. Together, they had one son named Fidel Angel Castro Diaz Balart, who was estranged from Castro after Díaz-Balart filed for divorce and refused to grant her ex-husband custody to their son.

The reasons why the divorce was filed are still being debated upon, but one of the popular causes for the divorce is that Fidel Castro had an affair with Natalia Revuelta, a Cuban socialite who had a daughter with Castro named Alina Fernández Revuelta. Mirta apparently found out about the affair after the prison director switched up the letters that were supposed to be sent to the two women while Castro was in prison for instigating the Cuban Revolution. So, the letters that were meant to be sent to Revuelta were given to Díaz-Balart. After Castro was released from exile, Revuelta did not continue the relationship with the dictator and instead chose to take care of their daughter on her own. Castro would marry again to another woman named Dalia Soto del Valle, who would remain as his wife until his death in 2016.

Literary Friends

Even though his enemies, including the media, have depicted Castro to be oblivious and ignorant to the struggles of his country and the world, which is not true, he is actually an intelligent person that has plenty of knowledge in military tactics, political moves, and literature. In fact, he is friends with three writers or poets that have won a Nobel Prize, who are Pablo Neruda, Ernest Hemingway, and Gabriel Garcia Márquez. 

His closest literary friend is Gabriel Garcia Márquez, whom he was a fan of after reading the writer’s magnum opus, “One Hundred Years of Solitude.” It is also no secret that Márquez worked for the Cuban government press bureau but soon left after Cuba shifted to a communist government. Despite being friends, Márquez is known to despise some of Castro’s choices in governing the country.

Castro’s Famous Beard

Besides the cigar, Fidel Castro is also famous for having a relatively long beard that looks unkempt and rugged but is actually well-groomed by the former prime minister. He got the idea for the beard while he was living as a young revolutionary in the Sierra Mountains, specifically during the time where he didn’t have any tools to shave his beard. 

So, because he became recognizable with facial hair as he rose in popularity in the political world of Cuba after his stay in the mountains, he decided to keep the famous beard to also make him distinguishable from other politicians and military personnel. Castro also has practical reasons for keeping the beard, as he once stated that instead of using a few minutes to shave his beard, he could do more important activities instead for that amount of time.

There are a lot more fascinating facts to be known about Fidel Castro, but these five are probably the most intriguing ones that you will read online. Castro has lived long until the age of 90, so he has experienced plenty of memorable moments and events in his life, so one article may not be enough to list all of the interesting facts about him. Nonetheless, knowing how he got his signature look and why he has so many enemies is important to learn about in understanding Castro and his legacy.