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1959: Castro sworn in as Cuban PM

VIDEO : A 1959 interview with Fidel Castro

Cuba's revolutionary leader Fidel Castro has become the country's youngest ever premier.

At the age of 32, he has been sworn in as Prime Minister in the Cabinet Room of the Presidential Palace in Havana.

Dr Castro led the resistance against the seven-year military rule of President Fulgeneio Batista and commanded the 26 July Army, a guerrilla force that drove the old regime into exile on New Year's Day.

But this is the first time he has assumed administrative responsibilities within the new, provisional government.

Cuban newspaper 'Revolution' - regarded as the voice-piece of the 26 July Army - explained his appointment is to solve the problem of "a dispersal of power", as many workers and industries have observed Castro's pronouncements and not the government's since the revolution.

According to the newspaper, "now the government, the revolution and the people will take the same path."


"We have great plans"

Fidel Castro, Prime Minister

Dr Castro was on leave from his previous post as Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces when Dr Jose Miro Cordoba - prime minister since 5 January - and his cabinet resigned, without explanation, two days ago.

As well as his supporters, a hoard of Cuban and foreign media witnessed Fidel Castro being sworn into office wearing his olive-green rebel army fatigues and sporting his trademark square cap and beard.

He told them: "We have great plans and we suffer when we cannot put these into effect rapidly, but technical preparations take time."

He also denied he had any interest in taking over as president, saying legal moves to lower the age of eligibility for the post last week were the initiative of the incumbent president Manuel Urrutia Lleo.

President Urrutia and Prime Minister Castro are old allies and are expected to work together to achieve revolutionary aims of economic reform and improved living standards for all Cubans.

In Context
Fidel Castro became patron of the Whiskers Club in Derbyshire, UK, on 23 February after promising not to shave his two-year-old beard until his country had a "good government".

The Cuban Cabinet refused to accept Dr Castro's resignation on 18 July 1959, claiming President Urrutia was obstructing reforms, and the President was prompted to step down instead.

Antagonism with the US grew and the Americans imposed economic sanctions on Cuba from 1960.

Cuban alliance with the USSR led to the nuclear missile crisis in 1962.

Dr Castro passed a new constitution and became president, secretary general of the Communist Party and commander-in-chief of the army in 1976.


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