The Secret Life of Fidel Castro

Castro Cigar BW

A former security agent shows the leader lived large while preaching revolutionary sacrifice

Mary Anastasia O’Grady writes: For 17 years Juan Reinaldo Sánchez was part of the elite team of Cuban security specialists charged with protecting the life and privacy of Fidel Castro.But in 1994 his loyalty came into question when, with a daughter already living abroad, a brother jumped on a castro-cigarraft for Florida. Castro fired him.

“The Obama administration has just removed Cuba from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism amid sharp criticism from exiles. Their concerns are sensible: Though Castro is now rumored to be feebleminded, the intelligence apparatus he built—which specializes in violence to destabilize democracy and trafficks in drugs and weapons—remains as it has been for a half century.”

Sánchez was imprisoned for two years and tortured. In 2008 he defected to the U.S., making him the only member of el maximo lider’s personal escort ever to flee the island.

“When a Canadian company offered to build a modern sports-facility for the nation, Castro used the donation for a private basketball court. Wherever he traveled in the world, his bed was dismantled and shipped ahead to ensure the comfort he demanded.”

Last month Sánchez died, weeks after he published “The Double Life of Fidel Castro,” an English-language version of “La Vida Oculta de Fidel Castro,” first published in 2014 in Spain. The timing of his demise has some wondering if the long arm of the dictatorship did not reach out to exact revenge for his tell-all about his former boss. The official cause of death has been reported as lung cancer.

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The legend of Castro as a great revolutionary who sacrifices for his people is preserved by keeping the details about his life a state secret. Sánchez’s account shows the real Castro: vengeful, self-absorbed and given to childish temper tantrums—aka “tropical storms.” “The best 51DScWyGj2L._SL250_way of living with him,” Sánchez wrote, “was to accept all he said and did.”

[Order Juan Reinaldo Sánchez’s book “The Double Life of Fidel Castro: My 17 Years as Personal Bodyguard to El Lider Maximo from Amazon.com]

The book is timely. The Obama administration has just removed Cuba from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism amid sharp criticism from exiles. Their concerns are sensible: Though Castro is now rumored to be feebleminded, the intelligence apparatus he built—which specializes in violence to destabilize democracy and trafficks in drugs and weapons—remains as it has been for a half century.

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Sánchez witnessed firsthand Castro’s indifference to Cuban poverty. The comandante gave interminable speeches calling for revolutionary sacrifice. But he lived large, with a private island, a yacht, some 20 homes across the island, a personal chef, a full-time doctor, and a carefully selected and prepared diet. Read the rest of this entry »


New Hemingway Artifacts From Cuba At JFK Library

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BOSTON (AP) — Materials from the Nobel Prize-winning author Ernest Hemingway’s Cuban home are available to researchers for the first time at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.

“It’s a personal peek into his life — it’s just wonderful..”

The 2,500 digitally scanned materials were housed at Hemingway’s former Cuban estate, called the Finca Vigía, where he lived for 21 years until he died in 1961.

This material reflects Hemingway’s everyday life in Cuba, said Susan Wrynn, an Ernest Hemingway curator at the Kennedy Library.

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