Castro’s son commits suicide after battling depression

In this file photo taken on November 02, 2014 Fidel Castro Diaz-Balart, son of former Cuban president Fidel Castro, participates in the inauguration of the 32nd Havana International Fair (FIHAV). (AFP)
Updated 02 February 2018

Castro’s son commits suicide after battling depression

HAVANA: The eldest son of late Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro, Fidel Castro Diaz-Balart, committed suicide on Thursday aged 68 after being treated for months for depression, Cuban state-run media reported.
Castro Diaz-Balart, also known as “Fidelito” because of how much he looked like his father, had initially been hospitalized for depression and then continued treatment as an outpatient.
“Castro Diaz-Balart, who had been attended by a group of doctors for several months due to a state of profound depression, committed suicide this morning,” Cubadebate website said.
Fidelito was born in 1949 out of his father’s brief marriage to Mirta Diaz-Balart before he went on to topple a US-backed dictator and build a communist-run state on the doorstep of the United States during the Cold War.
Through his mother, he was the cousin of some of Castro’s most bitter enemies in the Cuban American exile community, US Representative Mario Diaz-Balart and former US congressman Lincoln Diaz-Balart.
A nuclear physicist who studied in the former Soviet Union, Castro Diaz-Balart had been working as a scientific counselor to the Cuban Council of State and Vice-president of the Cuban Academy of Sciences at the time of his death.
Previously, from 1980 to 1992, he was head of Cuba’s national nuclear program, and spearheaded the development of a nuclear plant on the Caribbean’s largest island until his father fired him.
Cuba halted its plant plans that same year because of a lack of funding after the collapse of Cuba’s trade and aid ties with the ex-Soviet bloc and Castro Diaz-Balart largely disappeared from public view, appearing at the occasional scientific conference.
His death came just over a year after that of his father on Nov. 26, 2016, aged 90. 


Kashmir shutdown caused losses of more than $1 bln, trade body says

Updated 59 min 52 sec ago

Kashmir shutdown caused losses of more than $1 bln, trade body says

  • Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) said that it is planning to sue the government for damages
  • India's home ministry and local government officials did not comment on the losses report

SRINAGAR: Economic losses in Kashmir have run well over a billion dollars since India revoked its autonomy and statehood in August, the main trade body in the Himalayan region said, adding that it planned to sue the government for damages.
India turned its erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir into a federally-controlled territory, tightening control in a shock move it said would rein in militancy in the region also claimed by neighboring Pakistan, and promote its development.
But the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) said development was elusive, thanks to a protracted shutdown after people closed markets and businesses as a mark of protest, and for fear of reprisals from insurgents.
It estimated economic losses ran into least 100 billion rupees ($1.40 billion) by September, but now exceeded that, said Nasir Khan, its senior vice president.
“We’ll ask the court to appoint an external agency to assess the losses, because it is beyond us,” said Khan, adding that India’s telecoms blackout in the region meant the body could not reach business owners by telephone to prepare estimates.
Instead, it had to send staff to meet them and gather details.
India’s home ministry and local government officials did not respond to detailed requests for comment.
Besides severing telecoms links ahead of its decision, India imposed curbs on travel and sent thousands of troops to the heavily-militarised region, citing security concerns.
Some curbs have since been eased, but access to the Internet remains largely blocked.
India and Pakistan have tussled over Kashmir since independence from Britain in 1947, with each claiming the region in full but ruling it only in part.
For decades, India has battled insurgency in the portion it controls. It blames Pakistan for fueling the strife, but Pakistan denies this, saying it gives only moral support to non-violent separatists.
The clampdown has hit tourism as well as farming, horticulture and the arts and crafts that contribute the most to its export-oriented economy.
“I don’t see any stability for many months here,” said Vivek Wazir, who runs a hotel in Kashmir’s main city of Srinagar. “There’s too much uncertainty.”
Although a few years ago he planned to expand his business in Kashmir, Wazir said the hotel was now barely breaking even, and he was instead considering opening one in the neighboring Indian state of Himachal Pradesh.
India canceled an investor summit it had planned in Kashmir in October, and most tourists have stayed away after a spate of attacks on non-locals in recent weeks, which police blame on militants backed by Pakistan.
“I’d be surprised if any genuine investors came,” said Khan, adding that KCCI had received no inquiries from potential investors since August