I find capitalism repugnant. It is filthy, it is gross, it is alienating…because it causes war, hypocrisy and competition. – Fidel Castro
What Fidel lacks in academics, he more than makes up for in athletics. He is good at everything from soccer to track, and baseball. At the age of 18, he earns the title of “Cuba’s Best All-Around School Athlete.” He toys with the idea of becoming a professional baseball player, but soon discovers there are others even more talented than he. So he turns instead to law.
In 1945, he enrolls at the University of Havana where he earns a Doctorate of Law degree. University life transforms him from “political illiterate” to fiery student activist. He finds an outlet for his sense of injustice. He becomes passionate about Cuban nationalism and the evils of imperialism. He also comes to embrace socialism.
Fidel runs for presidency of the student federation, but loses. It is a crushing loss for him, and he is despondent for several weeks. However, he soon returns to form and gains national attention when he gives a fiery speech critical of government corruption. The government takes notice and views Fidel as a hothead who is just trying to get attention. In 1947, he joins a boat expedition with other revolutionaries intent on overthrowing Rafael Trujillo, the notorious dictator of neighboring Dominican Republic. The “invasion force” is intercepted by the Cuban military before their boat is out of Cuban waters, and the expedition is abandoned.
Inspired by the ideas and radio broadcasts of Eduardo Chibas, Fidel joins the Cuban People’s Party in 1947, which had recently been founded by Chibas. The party campaigns against corruption, injustice, poverty, unemployment and low wages, and accuses the Cuban government of running the country mainly for the benefit of American corporations.
Chibas runs for the presidency of Cuba in 1948, but loses badly to Carlos Prio. Fidel who had campaigned passionately for Chibas is devastated by the loss, but continues to fight for equality. The pain of political defeat is tempered greatly by his marriage.
On Octobter 11, 1948, Fidel marries the very lovely Mirta Diaz-Balart, a fellow student at the University of Havana. Mirta is the daughter of a prominent Cuban politician, Rafael Jose Diaz-Balart. Rafael pays for a lavish three-month honeymoon in the U.S. for Fidel and Mirta. The newlyweds spend 10 days in Miami, and the remainder of the time in New York City, where Fidel buys an expensive Lincoln Continental automobile.
Not long after returning to Cuba, Fidel jumps back into the political arena with both feet. He goes to Bogota, Colombia, for an anti-imperialism youth conference, but while he is there, the popular Liberal politician Jorge Eliecer Gaitan is assassinated, which sets off mass rioting across Columbia. Fidel gladly joins the riot, and gets arrested and expelled from the country.
Then, Fidel organizes a protest outside the U.S. Embassy in Havana, following an incident where a group of American sailors urinate on the statue of Cuban national hero Jose Marti. Fidel is arrested and beaten by police. But even that does not diminish his revolutionary fervor.
A few weeks later, on September 1, 1949, his first son is born. They name him Fidel Angel Castro Diaz-Balart, but simplify it to “Fidelito,” or Little Fidel.