Raul Castro Fast Facts
Posted December 13, 2012
Here's a look at the life of Raul Castro, President of Cuba.
Personal: Birth date: June 3, 1931
Birth place: Biran, Cuba
Birth name: Raul Modesto Castro Ruz
Father: Angel Castro, a wealthy Spanish landowner
Mother: Lina Ruz, a cook and maid to Angel Castro's first wife
Marriage: Vilma Espin (1959-2007, her death)
Children: Mariela, Nilsa, Deborah, Alejandro
Education: Attended the University of Havana
Timeline: 1953 - Attempts, along with his older brother Fidel Castro, to overthrow the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista, after which both are sentenced to 15 years in prison. They are released less than two years later as part of an amnesty for political prisoners. Both go into exile in Mexico.
January 1, 1959 - The Castros successfully overthrow the Batista government.
January 1959 - Three weeks after taking power, Fidel Castro states that his brother is to be his successor, telling supporters: "Behind me are others more radical than I." It is not made legal until 1997.
October 1959 - After Fidel Castro becomes the first communist leader in the Western Hemisphere, he appoints Raul Castro to several prominent roles in his government including defense minister.
April 1961 - His troops defeat the CIA-led Bay of Pigs invasion.
1962 - Becomes deputy prime minister.
July 1962 - In a visit to the Soviet Union, Raul Castro is promised missiles. This development leads to the US-Cuban Missile crisis.
1970s - Is involved in the military conflicts in Angola and Ethiopia.
1972 - Appointed first deputy prime minister (later called vice president).
1991 - Helps save Cuba from extreme financial crisis after the fall of the Soviet Union.
October 1997 - Cuba's Communist Party officially designates Raul Castro as Fidel Castro's successor should he die or be unable to perform his duties.
2000 - Assumes a high profile role in the fight to return 6-year old Elian Gonzalez to Cuba from Florida. Gonzalez's father wanted Gonzalez returned to him in Cuba after the boy's mother died in their attempt to make it to the United States.
2001 - In an interview with Cuban state television, Raul Castro states, "I am among those who believe that it would be in imperialism's interest to try, with our irreconcilable differences, to normalize relations as much as possible during Fidel's life."
July 31, 2006 - Fidel Castro temporarily hands over power to Raul Castro while undergoing intestinal surgery.
February 19, 2008 - Fidel Castro, in a letter, resigns from office as "President of the Council of State and Commander in Chief" of Cuba. This paves the way for the National Assembly to select Raul Castro as Cuba's new leader during its meeting on February 24.
February 24, 2008 - Raul Castro is chosen by Cuba's National Assembly to be the country's new president.
April 28, 2008 - Announces there will be a Communist Party Congress, the first since 1997. He also commutes most of the death row prison sentences to 30 years to life. Because of several delays and postponements, the congress does not actually meet until April 16, 2011.
December 2008 - Makes first international trip as president, visiting Venezuela's president Hugo Chavez.
March 2, 2009 - Reorganizes his Cabinet, replacing long-time aides to Fidel Castro.
April 6, 2009 - Meets with visiting members of the US Congressional Black Caucus.
April 19, 2011 - Raul Castro is elected by the Communist Party to succeed his brother Fidel Castro in the country's highest office. He recommends term limits for leaders.
March 2012 - Pope Benedict XVI visits Cuba and meets Castro. The pontiff prays for "those deprived of freedom" and talks about human rights throughout his tour of the country.
February 24, 2013 - After being reelected by the National Assembly, Castro announces he will step down in 2018, at the end of his second five-year term.
December 17, 2014 - Cuba and the United States announce plans to renew diplomatic relations after a half-century of tension.
April 12, 2015 - Castro meets with President Barack Obama during the Summit of the Americas in Panama.
May 10, 2015 - Meets Pope Francis for the first time. They talk for 50 minutes at the Vatican. Castro thanks the Pope for facilitating talks between Cuba and the United States. He later says he may rejoin the Catholic Church.
March 20-22, 2016 - During his historic trip to Cuba, President Obama visits Castro to discuss human rights and ending the economic embargo. Obama is the first sitting president to visit Cuba since 1928, when Calvin Coolidge traveled to the island via boat.
November 25, 2016 - Announces the death of his brother Fidel Castro, on Cuban state-run media.