MIAMI (CBSMiami) — To understand how Fidel Castro became the man that he did, it helps to look back on his childhood.
Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz was born on August 13, 1926 on a sugar plantation in Eastern Cuba owned by his father Angel Castro, a Spanish immigrant. His mother, Lina Ruz, was a household servant, 34 years younger than the elder Castro.
She bore him seven illegitimate children before he finally divorced his first wife, married her and recognized the children. Fidel was already 17 when he officially became a Castro.
Although wealthy, Angel Castro was stingy with his children.
At the age of 14, Fidel wrote President Franklin D. Roosevelt a letter claiming to be only 12. In the letter, he asked the President for ten dollars. That letter is now part of the U.S. National Archives.
Despite his tight fist, Angel Castro paid to send his children to private Catholic boarding schools and later encouraged Fidel to study law at the University of Havana. It is there, that Fidel Castro first became fascinated by campus politics and joined a thuggish militant student group. That was the dawn of Fidel Castro’s political life.
He was a powerful and charismatic speaker and soon emerged as one of the leaders in the growing movement against the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista.