The New York Post reports:
With his shaggy beard and rumpled, olive-drab fatigues, Fidel Castro presented himself to the world as a modest man of the people.
At times, he claimed he made just 900 pesos ($43) a month and lived in a “fisherman’s hut” somewhere on the beach.
But Castro’s public image was a carefully crafted myth, more fiction than fact.
“While his people suffered, Fidel Castro lived in comfort — keeping everything, including his eight children, his many mistresses, even his wife, a secret,” wrote Juan Reinaldo Sanchez, Castro’s longtime bodyguard.
Sanchez’s book, “The Double Life of Fidel Castro: My 17 Years as Personal Bodyguard to El Líder Maximo,” describes his former boss’ hidden life of political ruthlessness, mistresses and greed.
Castro, who died Friday night at 90, made a personal fortune offering safe haven to drug traffickers, bedded a bevy of women over the decades, and once threatened his own brother, Raul, with execution when the brother lapsed into alcoholism in the ’90s, Sanchez’s book reveals....
Castro cheated, too, on his second wife, seducing “comrade Celia Sanchez, his private secretary, confidante and guard dog for 30 or so years,” Sanchez wrote.
Castro also bedded his English interpreter, his French interpreter, and a Cuban airline stewardess who attended him on foreign trips, Sanchez wrote.
“He doubtless had other relationships that I did not know about,” Sanchez wrote.
Castro kept 20 luxurious properties throughout the Caribbean nation, including his own island, accessed via a yacht decorated entirely in exotic wood imported from Angola, Sanchez wrote....
Castro had as many as 11 children with four women — only two of whom he was married to — and numerous other mistresses, Sanchez wrote.
Only those closest to him knew of these affairs.
The only woman who dared to cause him any public scandal was his rebellious daughter, Alina Fernandez Revuelta.
“I remember her in the 1980s, a pretty young woman who had become a model,” Sanchez wrote.
“One day, when I was in Fidel’s anteroom, Pepín Naranjo, his aide-de-camp, showed up with a copy of the magazine Cuba.
“Spread across its second page, Alina could be admired posing on a sailboat in a bikini, in an advertisement for Havana Club rum.”
“What on earth is this?” Fidel exclaimed, according to Sanchez.
“Call Alina, at once!”
What followed was an epic father-daughter blowout.
“Two hours later, Alina strode into his office, not in the least intimidated,” Sanchez recalled.
“The ensuing argument was the most memorable of them all: Shouting reverberated all over the room, shaking the walls of the presidential office.”
“Everybody knows you are my daughter! Posing in a bikini like that is unseemly!” Castro raged.
Several years later, in 1993, Fidel learned through his secret service that Alina was plotting to flee to the United States.
“I am warning you: Alina must not leave Cuba under any pretext or in any way,” Castro told his head bodyguard, Col. Jose Delgado Castro, according to
“You’ve been warned.”
Two months later, Alina put on a wig, packed a false Spanish passport, and, with the help of a network of international accomplices, sneaked out of Cuba.
This, too, ignited the dictator’s temper.
“One rarely sees the Comandante allowing his anger to explode,” Sanchez wrote.
“In 17 years, I saw it only twice. But when Pepín broke the unpleasant news to him that day, Fidel went mad with rage.
“Standing up, he stamped his feet on the ground while pointing his two index fingers down to his toes and waving them around.”
“What a band of incompetent fools!” he cried. “I want those responsible! I demand a report! I want to know how all this could have happened!”
Alina remains one of her father’s most outspoken opponents.
“When people tell me he’s a dictator, I tell them that’s not the right word,” she told the Miami Herald.
“Strictly speaking, Fidel is a tyrant.”