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Exiled Cuban politician dead at 79

May 7, 2005 at 7:44 PM   |   Comments

KEY BISCAYNE, Fla., May 7 (UPI) -- A former Cuban politician and father of two U.S. congressmen has died in Key Biscayne, Fla., at 79-years-old.

Rafael Diaz-Balart, father of Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R) and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R), died of leukemia Friday, the Miami Herald reported.

"My father was my constant teacher and my best friend. He taught me how to live, and now he has taught me how to die," Lincoln Díaz-Balart wrote in a statement issued on behalf of the family. "I will miss his brilliance and wisdom, his extraordinary generosity of spirit, his limitless love for his family, and above all his supreme love for Cuba."

Díaz-Balart was elected to Cuba's congress in 1954. He rose to be the majority leader in Cuba's House of Representatives. He was elected to the Senate in 1958.

However, the revolution led by his ex-brother-in-law Fidel Castro derailed his political and diplomatic career in 1959.

Diaz-Balart is survived by his wife, Mercedes; sons, Rafael, Lincoln, Jose and Mario; stepdaughter Belen; siblings Mirta, Francisco and Waldo; and several grandchildren.

A Mass was scheduled for Saturday afternoon at Saint John Bosco Catholic Church in Key Biscayne.

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