Castro, Ral (Ral Castro Ruz)r-o?ol kstr? [key], 1931?, Cuban revolutionary and government official, younger brother of Fidel Castro. A loyal supporter of his brother and a Communist, Ral Castro joined Fidel in the unsuccessful 1953 uprising against Fulgencio Batista and was also imprisoned. Released in 1955, they went to Mexico and later returned (1956) to Cuba as guerrillas to overthrow Batista. Fidel's chief lieutenant in the revolution, Ral became minister of the armed forces in 1959, a position he held until 2008. In 1972 he also became first deputy premier and then first vice president of the Council of State and of the Council of Ministers when the Cuban government was reorganized in 1976. He became Cuba's acting president and Communist party leader in 2006 when Fidel Castro was forced by ill health and surgery to relinquish the presidency temporarily. When his brother retired as president in 2008, Ral was elected to the office. Under Ral a number of reforms, largely designed to increase the productivity of the Cuban economy, were introduced, but the continued dominance of the economy by state-owned business hampered growth. In 2011 he officially replaced Fidel as leader of the Cuban Communist party. He stepped down as president in 2018, and was succeeded by Vice President Miguel Daz-Canel.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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