Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev (1894-1971) was
for eleven years (1953-1964) first secretary of the Soviet Communist Party
and then, for six years (1958-1964) premier of the Soviet Union. He took an
active part in the 1917 Revolution, led the Party in Moscow and then in Ukraine.
In 1953, on Stalin's death he took over the leadership and soon initiated
new policies of reform, and deStalinization. He was the first Soviet leader
to visit the USA, in 1959. After a narrow escape in 1957, he was removed from
office in October 1964, when Leonid Brezhnev made him responsible for the
failure of Soviet agriculture and for losing face in the diplomatic field
over the Suez, Berlin, Cuba and China issues.
Fidel Castro was born in 1926 into a rather affluent
family. Though the young nationalist lawyer was an early opponent of the US-controlled
Batista regime, he was not a born antiYankee. As he advocated military action,
he was jailed and then expelled to Mexico where he met Che Guevara (1928-1967).
After 1956 he organized and led guerrilla action against Batista, who was
overthrown in January 1959. Castro the nationalist gradually got closer to
Socialism and became an ally of the Soviets. He has survived economic failures
and political tensions, and is still in power (2002).
John Fitzgerald Kennedy (1917-1963) was the 35th
president of the United States. Of Irish descent, he was a Catholic and a
Democrat. Raymond Aron, the French political expert and writer, said of him
that he was a determined and sensible man. He distinguished himself in action
during WWII and, in 1946, was the youngest US Representative. He became a
US Senator in 1952. In 1956 he failed in his attempt to be nominated vice-president,
but, four years later, he won a narrow victory over Richard Nixon and became
President. He initiated generous and far-reaching policies, among which the
Apollo project or the advancement of civil rights;
he also boosted rearmament programs. His assassination in Dallas remains a