Cuban leader Fidel Castro (1926-) established the first communist state in the Western Hemisphere after leading an overthrow of the military dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista in 1959. He ruled over Cuba for nearly five decades, until handing off power to his younger brother Raúl in 2008. During that time, Castro’s regime was successful in reducing illiteracy, stamping out racism and improving public health care, but was widely criticized for stifling economic and political freedoms. Castro’s Cuba also had a highly antagonistic relationship with the United States–most notably resulting in the Bay of Pigs invasion and the Cuban Missile Crisis. The two nations have no formal diplomatic relations, and the United States has enforced a trade embargo with Cuba since 1960, when U.S.-owned businesses in Cuba were nationalized without compensation.