Fidel Castro studies law at Havana University

In late 1945, Castro entered law school at the University of Havana.

He became immediately embroiled in the political culture at the University, which was a reflection of the volatile politics in Cuba during that era. Since the fall of president Gerardo Machado in the 1930s, student politics had degenerated into a form of gangsterismo dominated by fractious action groups, and Castro, believing that the gangs posed a physical threat to his university aspirations, experienced what he later described as "a great moment of decision."He returned to the university from a brief hiatus to involve himself fully in the various violent battles and disputes which surrounded university elections, and was to be implicated in a number of shootings linked to Rolando Masferrer's MSR action group. "To not return", said Castro later, "would be to give in to bullies, to abandon my beliefs". Rivalries were so intense that Castro apparently collaborated in an attempt on Masferrer's life during this period, while Masferrer, whose paramilitary group Les Tigres later became an instrument of state violence under Batista, perennially hunted the younger student seeking violent retribution.

In 1945 Castro entered law school at the University of Havana, where student activism, violence, and gang fights were common. Castro soon joined the activists and associated with one of the gangs, the Unión Insurreccional Revolucionaria. Although police suspected him of the murder of a rival student leader and other violent actions, nothing was proven. Castro developed a reputation for his personal ambition and public speaking ability, yet he never became a well-known student leader. On several occasions he was defeated in student elections.

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In 1945 Fidel enrolled in the Faculty of law at the University of Havana, where he studied civil law, diplomacy, public administration, and the social sciences and became president of the militant University Student’s Federation. In September 1947 he took time out from his studies to take part in an unsuccessful expedition to overthrow the dictatorship of the Dominican Republic under Generalissimo Rafael Trujillo. In April 1948, as one of the organizers of a student congress at Bogotá, Columbia, he took part in the violent uprising known as the Bogotazo. Because of his then liberal political orientation, he occasionally clashed with Communists in the student movement. Castro recalled in a speech in December 1961 that his ideological development as a Marxist did not fully take form until after he had come into power.