Today In History Spotlights Feb. 16, 1959, Fidel Castro becomes Premier of Cuba

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Today’s History Spotlight


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Fidel Castro becomes Premier of Cuba. During the Cuban Revolution from 1953-1959, Castro’s forces fought and eventually overthrew the US-sponsored administration of Fulgencio Batista. From there, Castro established a Communist government, which began with the abolition of the democratic process and the overthrow of wealthy business owners.

His regime formed a strong relationship with the Soviet Union, which increased tension between the United States and Communist nations. Tension between Cuba and the US heightened with the Bay of Pigs Invasion in 1961 and the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. During the 1970s and 1980s, Castro sent troops to assist Communist forces in Angola and Grenada. He ruled Cuba until 2011 and passed away on November 25, 2016.

What Happened On This Day – February 16

  • 2005 The Kyoto Protocol goes into effect. The global warming pact was ratified by 191 countries to date – excluding the United States.
  • 1987 The first trial against John Demjanjuk begins in Jerusalem. Demjanjuk was falsely accused of being a particularly brutal Nazi guard dubbed “Ivan the Terrible”; in a separate trial in 2011, he was convicted by a German criminal court as an accessory to the murder of 27,900 people.
  • 1985 Hezbollah is founded. The Lebanese political party and militant group is classified as a terrorist organization by several western countries.
  • 1923 The burial chamber of Pharoh Tutankhamun is opened. Howard Carter’s discovery is one of archeology’s best known, especially due to the myth of the “Curse of Tutankhamun” that was sparked by the death of Lord Carnarvon who was one of the first to enter the chamber.

Births On This Day – February 16

  • 1979 Valentino Rossi – Italian motorcycle racer
  • 1954 Iain Banks – Scottish author
  • 1941 Kim Jong-il – North Korean politician, 2nd Supreme Leader of North Korea
  • 1898 Katharine Cornell – American actress, producer
  • 1831 Nikolai Leskov – Russian author, playwright, journalist

Deaths On This Day – February 16

  • 2013 Tony Sheridan – English singer-songwriter, guitarist
  • 2002 Walter Winterbottom – England football manager
  • 1984 M. A. G. Osmany – Bangladeshi general
  • 1957 Josef Hofmann – Polish/American pianist, composer
  • 1932 Edgar Speyer – American/English financier, philanthropist

The sections “What Happened On This Day,” “Births On This Day,” and “Deaths On This Day” originally appeared at TimeandDate.com and is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

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