‘Chomy’ Miyar, the Cuban Who Knew All of Fidel Castro’s Secrets, Dies

His time as rector of the University of Havana coincided with the ’purge’ processes that ended with the expulsion of students and professors. (Twitter/Fidel Castro Center)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 20 January 2023 — José Miguel Chomy Miyar Barrueco, former secretary to Fidel Castro and one of the “historical” figures of the regime, died this Friday morning in Havana at the age of 90. Miyar was also rector of the University of Havana between 1966 and 1972, a position he held during the years of harsh purges against students and professors.

“He died at dawn at his home in Miramar, near the National Aquarium. He had been suffering from decompensated diabetes for years and was cared for by two nurses,” says a family source who requests anonymity. “The family was notified just after he passed away and many of them, who are based in Italy and Spain, are already traveling to the Island to be at the wake.”

The official press did not announce Miyar’s death until two hours after 14ymedio broke the news. After this delay, the Communist Party daily Granma reported that Miyar will have a wake at the funeral home at Calzada and K, starting at 6:00 p.m. this Friday. The burial will take place on Saturday morning, in the pantheon of the Armed Forces of the capital.

The relative reported that after Miyar’s death “a battalion” from State Security appeared to “collect” his belongings, because he was “the most important living archive that Fidel Castro had.”

Born in Siboney, Santiago de Cuba, in August 1932, Chomy graduated as a doctor and was a gray but very powerful presence in Cuban politics for half a century. However, “his last years, after Fidel Castro died, were difficult, they took him to a house, with a small room that looked like a movie set to give the idea of ​​humility, but it was all a lie because he was a very rich man. He had hip problems and they operated on him at Cimeq,” adds his relative.

“He only had two children left here, who are in the business of selling products over the Internet on foreign currency sites. The rest of the children and grandchildren are living in Italy and Spain with changed names,” he details. “Chomy was very isolated at the end of his life because Raúl Castro did not hold him in good esteem and he was a man who knew too many secrets, he had to be kept away from everyone so that he would not open his mouth.”

The family fortune, impossible to put into figures due to the secrecy that surrounds the Miyar clan, contrasts with the austere image that Chomy disseminated in the 1960s and 1970s, when he donned a dark gray khaki jacket with a closed collar, imitating the one worn by Mao Tse-tung. With that “uniform” he walked through the university cloisters, official activities and partisan events.

His time as rector of the University of Havana coincides with the “purification” processes that ended with the expulsion of students and professors accused of being revisionists, homosexuals, and religious. At the head of that house of higher studies, when the Ministry of Higher Education did not yet exist, Chomy had total power to define everything from the study plan to the access policy to university classrooms.

Miyar also served as secretary of the Council of State between 1980 and 2009, a period when his single visit to an official institution was seen as the arrival of “the eyes and ears” of Fidel Castro himself. Later, after Castro’s illness, he was appointed Minister of Science, Technology and Environment, which he held from 2009 to March 2012.

“The whole family is very well placed financially, some are owners of companies and a publishing house in Spain, as well as powerful businesses in Italy and other countries,” the relative details. “At one point you had to count on him for everything, he distributed properties from houses to the gift of positions, and he continued to be, until the end of his life, a great fan of Fidel Castro.”

“He had the largest collection of photographs of Castro, which he took himself, and he kept many of his secrets, which is why in his last years he was an uncomfortable person, someone nobody wanted to be around. He was always [Castro’s] private secretary, even when he worked in other functions or in public office, he was still his right hand man for many things.”

“He was married to a very rich Italian woman, who later died and left him the entire fortune, which is why part of the family is based in Italy.” His daughter, María Elena Miyar Ibarra, also held a high position in Immigration, but no longer lives on the island. “They already took everything they had to take out of the country, many resources, money, works of art and valuable belongings.”

“He created several companies to launder money in Panama, he also had a thriving business selling guayaberas under the Panabrisa brand,” he explains. “He was not only the one who helped Castro in ’carrying and bringing’ information, he also organized meetings with women who caught his attention when he visited the university or any other place and was in charge of managing part of the family’s money.”

“It was enough for someone to receive a call from Chomy for them to feel that they were talking to his boss, you couldn’t say no to anything he asked for. He was super powerful.” The anecdotes of young women who, after a chance encounter with Castro, were contacted by his personal secretary were repeated in the corridors of ministries and universities. “He acted as Celestino, all with discretion and that smile that he always had frozen on his face.”

During an international fair, Castro became obsessed with a girl who was studying physics, says Miyar’s relative. It was Chomy himself who supervised the installation of a landline phone in her house, so that Castro could talk to her. “We’re talking about the years when there were very few fixed lines,” he says.

“Although he was a doctor, he did not practice that profession with Castro, he was his secretary but he did not treat him as a doctor.” His specialty “was other things, he was not there to help him with his entrails but to carry his secrets and be absolutely docile,” the source underlines. “That was his whole life, more than the right hand of Fidel Castro, the dark hand that covered and kept his worst actions safe.”


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