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FACTBOX: Facts about Cuba's Fidel Castro
Aug 13 Reuters) - The following are some facts about former Cuban leader Fidel Castro, who turned 82 on Wednesday.
* Fidel Castro led Cuba for 49 years and was the world's third longest-serving head of state, after Britain's Queen Elizabeth and the King of Thailand. He has not been seen in public since illness forced him to hand over day-to-day control to his brother Raul Castro in July 2006. The transfer of power was formalized in February, when the National Assembly elected Raul Castro as president.
* Castro holds the Guinness Book of Records title for the longest speech ever delivered to the United Nations: 4 hours and 29 minutes, on September 29, 1960. His longest speech on record in Cuba was 7 hours and 10 minutes in 1986 at the III Communist Party Congress in Havana.
* Castro claims he survived 634 attempts on his life, mainly masterminded by the Central Intelligence Agency. They allegedly included poison pills, a toxic cigar, exploding mollusks, and a chemically-tainted diving suit as well as powder to make his beard fall out so as to undermine his popularity.
* Despite the CIA plots, a U.S.-backed exile invasion at the Bay of Pigs and four and a half decades of economic sanctions, Castro outlasted nine U.S. presidents, from Eisenhower to Clinton, and faced increased hostility under President George W. Bush, who tightened enforcement of financial sanctions and a travel ban.
* Castro, once a cigar-chomping guerrilla fighter, gave up cigars in 1985. Years later he summed up the harm of smoking tobacco by saying: "The best thing you can do with this box of cigars is to give them to your enemy."
* Castro has at least eight children. 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. 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 of her father's rule. Castro has five sons with his second wife Dalia Soto.
(Reporting by Anthony Boadle and Jeff Franks; Editing by Kieran Murray)
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