14ymedio, Madrid, December 4, 2023 — Juana Castro Ruz, sister of former Cuban leaders Fidel and Raúl Castro, died on Monday in a Miami hospital at the age of 90. Her friend, Maria Antonieta Collins, a journalist with the Univisión television network, reported that Juanita, as she was known, died of natural causes, adding that her family will not be giving interviews or holding a public funeral.
Collins, who collaborated with Castro on her 2011 memoir Fidel and Raúl, My Brothers, described her as “an extraordinary person the likes of whom we will never see again, a woman who sacrificed everything for her ideals.” In 1964 she fled Cuba for Mexico after her brother Fidel aligned his regime with the Soviet Union. She later settled permanently in the United States.
In the book, Castro confessed that she once worked for the CIA but broke with the agency when they asked her to make what she described as a “shocking” statement to minimize the communist threat at a time following the Cuban Missile Crisis when both sides in the Cold War were trying to play down the threat of a nuclear conflagration.
In her book, Juanita Castro confessed that she once worked for the CIA but broke with the agency when they asked her to make what she described as a “shocking” statement to minimize the communist threat
She also discussed the weakness she had for her brother Raúl, whom their mother called Musito. “Raúl, the democratic transition for Cuba could be in your hands,” she would say. “Evolving with dignity could be your great historic opportunity.”
In an interview with Univisión following Fidel’s death in 2016, she acknowledged her grief and surprise, saying she thought “something like that would never die.” The Castros’ younger sister recalled how she dedicated herself “body and soul to that revolution” before becoming disenchanted with its change of direction and embarking on the path of exile.
Though she stated at the time, “I am not going to go to Cuba; I have nothing to do in Cuba; I am not going to Fidel’s funeral,” she claimed that both Havana and Miami’s Cuban community despised her. “They have mistreated me because of their hatred for the regime and for Fidel, but that is totally unfair.”
She also said, “I would have liked for us to have been a normal family, for Fidel to have been a real national leader as he promised and told us and as we believed him him back then. Everything would have been different.”
Though there is a niche reserved for Juanita in the mausoleum on the family farm in Birán, she refused to be buried there. “The truth is I have absolutely no interest in that mausoleum,” she said. “My remains are not going to rest there, that I have decided.”
Of the seven children of her Spanish imigrant father and Cuban mother, only 92-year-old Raúl and 85-year-old Emma are still alive.
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