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On this day:

Castro sworn in

On February 16, 1959, six years after he launched his guerrilla war against dictator Fulgencio Batista, Fidel Castro is sworn in as premier of Cuba. Despite early denials of communist leanings, Castro launched a program of agrarian reform, nationalized American assets on the island, and proclaimed a Marxist government. After repelling the U.S.-backed Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961, he strengthened ties with the Soviet Union and in 1962 authorized the installation of Soviet missile bases on the island. The discovery of the missile sites by U.S. spy planes set off the Cuban Missile Crisis, which ended after the Soviets agreed to remove the offensive weapons in exchange for a U.S. pledge not to invade Cuba.