Juanita Castro, the anti-communist sister of Fidel and Raúl, dies at 90 in Miami



Juanita Castro, the sister of Cuban leaders Fidel and Raúl Castro, who worked with the CIA against her brothers’ communist government, has died in Miami at the age of 90. Florida had been her home since shortly after fleeing the island nearly 60 years ago.

The journalist María Antonieta Collins, co-author of Juanita Castro’s book “Fidel and Raúl, my brothers. The secret story,” she wrote on Instagram that she died on Monday.

“Juanita Castro went ahead of us on the path of life and death, an exceptional woman, a tireless fighter for the cause of her Cuba that I love so much,” wrote Collins.

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The Cuban government and media had not mentioned his death until Wednesday.

In her book, Juanita Castro, a staunch anti-communist, wrote that she began collaborating with the CIA shortly after the United States botched the Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961.

He had initially supported his older brothers in their attempt to overthrow the dictator Fulgencio Batista, raising funds and buying weapons. He was disillusioned when Fidel Castro became a hardline communist after taking power in 1959 and expelled those who disagreed from his government.

When his home in Cuba became a sanctuary for anti-communists in the early 1960s, Fidel Castro warned his sister not to get involved with the “worms,” as the government called those who opposed the revolution.

In her book she relates that the wife of the Brazilian ambassador to Cuba was the one who convinced her to meet with a CIA agent during a trip to Mexico City in 1961. She says that she told the agent that she did not want money and that she would not support any type of violence against their siblings or other people.

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He added that the CIA used it to introduce messages, documents and money hidden in food cans into Cuba. They communicated with her by shortwave radio, playing a waltz and a song from the opera Madame Butterfly as signals that her handlers had a message for her.

She remained on the island as long as her mother was alive, believing it would protect her from Fidel’s full wrath.

“My brothers could ignore what I did or pretend to ignore it so as not to hurt my mother, but that didn’t mean I didn’t have problems,” he wrote. After the death of her mother in 1963, “everything became dangerously complicated.”

Castro fled Cuba the following year, after Raúl helped her get a visa to Mexico. She never saw her brothers again.

“I can no longer remain indifferent to what is happening in my country,” he told the press when he arrived in Mexico. “My brothers Fidel and Raúl have transformed it into a huge prison surrounded by water. “The people are nailed to a cross of torment imposed by international communism.”

Because her work for the CIA had been clandestine and not publicly known, many Cuban exiles feared she was a communist spy when, a year later, she arrived in the United States. She later helped found a CIA-backed nonprofit that worked against the Castro government.

He eventually made his home in Miami, where he operated a pharmacy in Little Havana and became a respected member of the Cuban-American community. In 1984 he became a naturalized American.

Luis Zúñiga Rey, who before being expelled from Cuba in 1988 had been a political prisoner, said Wednesday that he met Juanita Castro during interviews with local radio.

“She was serious and personable. “She liked respect,” she commented. “Being the sister of the dictators of Cuba, she tried to prevent that family relationship from interfering in her communication, in her relationship with her compatriots.”

“She essentially showed herself to be very brave. Confront her powerful brother; Imagine what it means on a personal level,” she said.

Fidel Castro ruled Cuba until 2008, when he passed power to Raúl, who had been his second in command. Then, Raúl Castro spent a decade as president of Cuba.

When Fidel’s serious health problems in 2006 sparked celebrations in the streets of Little Havana, Juanita Castro was not happy. Although she had fought against his rule, he was still her brother.

“Just as people are demonstrating and celebrating, I show my sadness. “I respect the position of all those who feel happy about their health problems, but they also have to respect me,” he had told The Associated Press. “It’s my family. They’re my siblings. It doesn’t matter. That’s right, even though we are separated for political and ideological reasons.”

Fidel Castro died in 2016 at the age of 90, while Raúl, 92, lives retired. The older brother, Ramón, also died in 2016 at the age of 91.

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