Former President and coummunist revolutionary icon of Cuba, Fidel Castro died in Havana, at the age of 90. His brother and the present President of Cuba, Raul Castro, today announced the death of the revolutionary saying, “The commander in chief of the Cuban revolution died at 22:29 hours this (Friday) evening.”
Being world’s third longest-serving head of state, after Britain’s Queen Elizabeth and the King of Thailand, Fidel Castro led Cuba for five decades. He temporarily ceded power to his brother Raul in July 2006 after undergoing intestinal surgery. The handover of power became official in 2008.
In his last years, Castro occasionally appeared in public and in videos and pictures usually meeting with guests. He wrote hundreds of columns for the official media. Stooped and walking with difficulty, Castro was seen in public twice in 2012 and twice in 2013. He was seen in public on Jan. 8, 2014, at the opening of a cultural center, though photos of visiting dignitaries at the Castro home appeared after that. Castro was seen in public twice in 2012 and 2013, each and was also seen on January 8, 2014, at the opening of a cultural center, though photos of visiting dignitaries at the Castro home appeared after that.
According to the UN website, the revolutionary icon holds the record for the longest speech ever delivered to the United Nations, which went for 4 hours and 29 minutes, on September 26, 1960. His speech on February 24, 1998, after the national assembly re-elected him to a five-year term as president, was one of longest on record and went for 7 hours and 30 minutes.
Castro claimed he survived 634 attempts or plots to assassinate him, mainly masterminded by the Central Intelligence Agency and US-based exile organizations. They may have included poison pills, a toxic cigar, exploding mollusks, and a chemically tainted diving suit. Another alleged plan involved giving him powder that would make his beard fall out and so undermine his popularity. Despite the plots, a US-backed exile invasion at the Bay of Pigs and five decades of economic sanctions, Castro outlasted nine US presidents, from Dwight Eisenhower to Bill Clinton, stepping down while George W. Bush was in office.
Castro had nine children from five women. His eldest son Fidel Castro Diaz-Balart, who is the image of his father and is known as Fidelito, is a Soviet-trained nuclear scientist born in 1949 out of his brief marriage to Mirta Diaz-Balart. Daughter Alina Fernandez, the result of an affair with a Havana socialite when Castro was underground in the 1950s, escaped from Cuba disguised as a tourist in 1993 and is a vocal critic. Castro has five sons with his common-law wife since the 1960s, Dalia Soto del Valle. He also has a son and a daughter born to two other women with whom he had affairs before coming to power.
(With inputs from agencies)