by Maille Halloran
That the transition from lawyer to dictator is inevitable is the kind of joke many legal professionals are frequently subjected to. Critics of Fidel Castro might claim that in the Cuban revolutionary leader’s case, this joke holds more truth than jest.
A young Castro studied to become an attorney at the University of Havana. At university Castro became heavily involved in leftist student politics. Fidel graduated to practise with two partners in a firm mostly frequented by Cuba’s poor. Financial reliance on the more vulnerable of the country’s citizens ended badly for the partners, with the firm’s failure driving Fidel into debt.
Castro began campaigning for a seat in the House of Representatives. Before the election, General Batista launched a military coup d’état that saw the government overthrown, upcoming elections cancelled and the General installed as dictator.
Castro attempted to combat this injustice using his training in the law, claiming that Batista’s rule was invalid and violated Cuba’s constitution. The Cuban Supreme Court rejected Fidel’s submissions.
Castro abandoned his use of legal avenues to promote change and launched an armed attack on several barracks. Castro was captured and spent two years in prison before being released during an amnesty period.
The former lawyer went on the lead the revolution and eventually the country for almost fifty years.