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Saturday, November 26, 2016

Meet Fidel Castro's family: torn by bitterness, rows and dysfunction!

In this Feb. 26, 1957 file photo, Cuba's leader Fidel Castro stands in an unknown location in Cuba CREDIT: AP PHOTO

Fidel Castro's rule of nearly five decades split many a Cuban family between exile and solidarity with the communist revolution - including his own.
While brother Raul was his closest confidant and successor as president, sister Juana, exiled in south Florida, called Fidel a "monster" to whom she hadn't spoken in more than four decades.
Eldest son Fidelito, long Castro's only officially recognized child, was a nuclear scientist in Cuba. Eldest daughter Alina Fernandez, born from an affair with a married socialite who remained on the island decades later, blasted dad on exile radio from Miami.
The sprawling Castro clan, made larger by Fidel's early extramarital affairs, also suffered from the same sorts of dysfunction and disagreements afflicting so many other families: siblings who don't speak, adults resentful over childhood slights and murky talk of babies born out of wedlock.



A picture of a young Fidel Castro
A picture of a young Fidel Castro
During Castro's long illness, the tightly wrapped secrecy about his family started unraveling as his youngest sons and their mother, Dalia Soto del Valle, rallied around him.
Soto del Valle, a blonde, green-eyed former schoolteacher Castro met during Cuba's literacy campaigns in the 1960s, was his life's most enduring relationship. She was rarely seen in public and never alongside the "maximum leader" while he was in power.
Together more than four decades, the couple had five sons, now middle-aged. Castro, who took the nom de guerre Alejandro during the revolution, continued his homage to Alexander the Great when naming them: Alexis, Alejandro, Angelito, Alexander and Antonio.
None were involved in politics. The best known is Antonio, or Tony. An orthopedic surgeon and former official doctor for the island's national baseball team, he later became vice president of both the Cuban Baseball Federation and the Swiss-based International Baseball Federation.
For decades their identities and their mother's were state secrets known only to a small circle of loyalists.
Watch | Miami mayor responds to death of Fidel Castro
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So private was Castro about his family life, his marital status with Soto del Valle was unknown in a country where common-law unions are as ubiquitous as legal ones. Some reports said they married in a quiet civil ceremony in 1980.
News correspondents on the island had heard whispers about "la mujer del comandante" - the comandante's woman - but didn't get their first glimpse of her until early 2000 when she joined a huge rally calling for the return of Elian Gonzalez, the Cuban boy rescued from an inner tube off South Florida. Soto del Valle also made a rare public appearance the following year at the Tropicana nightclub during Cuba's annual international cigar festival.
But she wasn't seen publicly alongside Castro until the summer of 2010, when he made a series of appearances after a four-year absence, including his first address to the National Assembly since falling ill.
There were also dividing lines in the family tracing back to a custody battle over Fidelito even before Castro toppled Fulgencio Batista in 1959. Those divisions would only grow deeper and more bitter after the revolution, similar to the splintering in untold Cuban families with members on both sides of the Florida Straits.



Castro poses with his female admirers
Castro poses with his female admirers
Fidel's first wife, Mirta Diaz-Balart, divorced him in the mid-1950s and took Fidelito, born in 1949 as the oldest of at least nine children Castro fathered, to the United States. Castro wanted the 5-year-old kept from Mirta's family, which included her brother Rafael Diaz-Balart, an official in Batista's government. Two of Castro's nephews, Mario and Lincoln Diaz-Balart, later became Florida congressmen who personified exile opposition to his regime.
"I refuse even to think that my son may sleep a single night under the same roof sheltering my most repulsive enemies and receive on his innocent cheeks the kisses of those miserable Judases," Castro wrote his half-sister, Lidia, in 1956.
While in Mexico preparing for the guerrilla war, Castro persuaded Mirta to send Fidelito for a two-week visit, then refused to send him back. Later, as Castro's sisters were taking the boy for a stroll in Mexico City's Chapultepec Park, three armed men jumped from a car and grabbed him to return him to his mother.
Even Castro's own childhood in eastern Cuban had its family complications.
Patriarch Angel Castro, who immigrated from Spain's Galicia region and established a farmstead in a place called Biran, was still married to his first wife when he started a family with Fidel's mother, Lina Ruz, the family maid.
It's unclear what happened to Maria Argota, Angel Castro's first wife, who bore him Lidia and Pedro Emilio. But Angel and Lina ultimately had seven children together, finally marrying in a church after Fidel, their third child, was born.
Fidel's older brother Ramon, a lifelong rancher, was occasionally seen in public, and sisters Angela and Emma also remained in Cuba. The youngest sister, Agustina, lived in Mexico many years.
Among his own offspring, Fidel only publicly recognized Fidelito, the angel-faced, blond boy from revolution-era photographs who today causes double-takes because he so resembles his father. As an adult he rose to the top post at Cuba's Atomic Energy Commission before his father removed him for unpublicized reasons in the early 1990s.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/11/26/meet-fidel-castros-family-torn-bitterness-rows-dysfunction/?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

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