Saturday, September 26, 2009

Fidel Castro's Cuba full of his offspring after years of womanising by El Commandante

Fidel Castro's Cuba full of his offspring after years of womanising by
El Commandante
Fidel Castro, Cuba's long-standing dictator, has fathered at least 10
children by a string of women, according to a new biography.
By Philip Hart
Published: 8:36PM BST 26 Sep 2009

FIDEL CASTRO: Fidel Castro's Cuba full of his offspring after years of
El Commandante's womanising

Fidel Castro is renowned in Cuba for his verbosity and longevity. But
his long-suffering compatriots know little about another sphere where El
Commandante has proved prolific - his private life.

Discussing his womanising ways is strictly taboo on the Caribbean
communist outpost, even on an island where the gossip grapevine
flourishes in the absence of a free press.

But a long-time Cuba-watcher has now revealed the scale of his
philandering and the existence of at least 10 offspring. That is more
than previously believed - but very possibly not the full tally.

When journalist Ann Louise Bardach asked Castro how many children he had
during an interview with Vanity Fair in 1993, he smiled and answered
"almost a tribe".

During the research for Without Fidel, her new book chronicling the
lives of Castro and his brother, Raul, to be published by Scribner, she
discovered how true that observation was.

Castro, now 83, was a dashing young man whose good looks and rebel
swagger clearly leant him a strong sexual allure during the years before
and after the 1959 revolution. Indeed, media reports describe female
fans swooning after he arrived triumphantly in Havana and during early
trips to the US.

He had one child, Fidelito (Little Fidel), with his first wife Myrta
Diaz-Balart in 1949 and five boys between 1962 and 1974 with Dalia Soto
del Valle, a little-seen companion whom he is said to have secretly
married in 1980. Remarkably, she was first shown on Cuban television in
2003 - "so forbidden" was Castro's personal domain, Ms Bardach observes.

But there have been many more paramours and several other children along
the way - most notably from the time when the 29-year-year old rebel
leader celebrated his release from prison in 1955 for a failed uprising.

For three Castro offspring were born to three women during 1956. Most
famously, there was Natalia Revuelta, an aristocratic beauty who became
a fierce defender of his revolution - she bore him a daughter, Alina

Ms Bardach, an investigative journalist and a member of the Cuba Study
Group at the Brookings Institution think-tank, had previously reported
the existence of another illegitimate 1956 child, Panchita Pupo. She was
not even known to his other offspring and her mother remains unidentified.

And in this book, she reveals the identity of the mother of Jorge Angel,
the third Castro child of 1956 - Maria Laborde, an admirer who Castro
met just after was he freed.

She also discloses another apparent addition to the brood - a son known
as Ciro, the early 1960s product of another brief fling. He was
previously unknown outside the family inner circle, but a close relative
of Celia Sanchez, Castro's closest confidante and yet another rumoured
lover, revealed his existence to the author.

Ciro, named after a revolutionary martyr and whose mother's name is
still secret, is said to have "movie star looks", with green eyes and
dark complexion. He went into sports medicine after studying physical
education at college, married a minor party official and lives in a
Havana suburb where nobody knows his provenance.

And if claims made earlier this year by a Cuban intelligence defector
that he sired another son in 1970 are true, that would take the count to
11 children by seven women - and counting.

Castro's first name is derived from the Latin for "faithful", but while
he has remained true to his politics, the same cannot be said of the
women in his life. His offspring have however largely adhered to their
father's instructions not to flaunt their privileged backgrounds and are
rarely seen in public, His first son, Fidelito, has received the highest
prominence. But when he mishandled the country's nuclear power
programme, his father ordered his dismissal. "He was fired for
incompetence," Castro said. "We don't have a monarchy here."

Many Cubans would, however, disagree with the last point - and with good
reason. After the crippling intestinal disease of diverticulitis nearly
killed him in 2006, Fidel's brother Raul was anointed to replace him.
The younger Castro was confirmed as president last year in a handover
which appeared almost feudal.

Ms Bardach predicts that the most likely member of the family's next
generation to emerge as a future leader is Raul's son, Alejandro, 43, a
colonel and rising star in the powerful interior ministry The book also
discloses the explosive inside story of how Raul Castro purged two close
lieutenants of his older brother. Carlos Lage, the economics czar, and
Felipe Perez Roque, the foreign minister, had both been considered
possible future leaders, but were ousted after a year-long surveillance

In classic old communist style, the two men were forced to write mea
culpas for political sins which are still unclear. Raul, the veteran
defence minister, has moved allies from the armed forces into virtually
all areas of government and the economy - apparently inspired by the
commercial success of the People's Liberation Army in China.

And Ms Bardach reveals that Fidel Castro's pride and obstinacy almost
proved fatal when he rejected the recommended surgery in 2006 - a
colostomy. Castro insisted on a much riskier operation as he did not
want to suffer the perceived indignity of living with an attached bag.

The bolder procedure failed and Castro was nearly killed by a
peritonitis infection as a result. After a life-saving colostomy was
finally performed, Ms Bardach reports that Castro was distraught. "Fidel
was crying," a source present in the hospital told her. "He cried
several times that day. He was devastated."

From her contacts within the Cuban medical system, she also learns that
Castro was fed intravenously for five months after the surgery and lost
45 pounds. A Spanish doctor brought in to treat him feared he was
"starving to death" and gradually restored solid foods to a highly
restrictive diet.

In his occasional photo shoots with visiting left-wing Latin American
proteges, Castro has abandoned his old uniform of olive fatigues.

Instead, he opts for garish track suits because they hide the hated
colostomy bag - emblematic of his transformation from hirsute
heart-throb to frail octogenarian.

Fidel Castro's Cuba full of his offspring after years of womanising by
El Commandante - Telegraph (26 September 2009)

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