Castro, who died 11/25/16 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.
Amazingly, most Cubans had no idea how, or even where, their secretive strongman actually lived.
First of all his father was from Sweden and then a landlord and he initially was clean shaven but started having beard to look like a communist and leader.
Even his first and second wives were kept out of the public eye — as was their leader’s two-timing.
Castro cheated on his first wife, the upper-middle-class Mirta Diaz-Balart, with Natalia Revuelta.
“With her green eyes, her perfect face and her natural charm,” Revuelta was one of Havana’s most beautiful women, Sanchez wrote — no matter that she, too, was married at the start of their mid-’50s affair.
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.
Taking control of Cuba on New Year’s Day 1959, after his guerrilla army routed the quarter-century-long dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista, Castro vowed that unlike his hated predecessor, he’d share the nation’s wealth with its poorest citizens.
But while he made good on some of his promises to educate and care for his people — building free schools and hospitals with the help of his Soviet sponsors — Castro’s legacy was also one of repression and hypocrisy.
Deep poverty persisted — teen prostitution, crumbling houses, food rations. Political opponents were executed by the thousands by firing squad, or sentenced to decades of hard labor.
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.
Disloyalty exacted a heavy price. Dissidents were jailed for as little as handing out books on democracy.
Castro himself displayed little loyalty, either professionally or personally.
Even his closest aides faced execution if it suited his agenda.
In the late ’80s, when an international scandal brewed over Castro’s exchanges of safe haven for cash with Colombian cocaine traffickers, Castro had no problem throwing those closest to him under the bus.
“Very simply, a huge drug-trafficking transaction was being carried out at the highest echelons of the state,” Sanchez wrote.
Castro “was directing illegal operations like a real godfather,” Sanchez wrote.
Revolutionary Gen. Arnaldo Ochoa, who had fought alongside Fidel and Raul Castro, was at the center of the drug dealings, Sanchez said.
But when the US caught wind, Castro vowed an “official inquiry.”
Raul was forced to view on closed-circuit TV as a kangaroo court tried and convicted Ochoa — and then watch the general’s execution by firing squad.
“Castro made us watch it,” Sanchez recalled.
“That’s what the Comandante was capable of to keep his power: not just of killing but also of humiliating and reducing to nothing men who had served him devotedly.”
After Ochoa’s death, Raul plunged into alcoholism, drowning his grief and humiliation with vodka.
“Listen, I’m talking to you as a brother,” Castro warned him.
“Swear to me that you will come out of this lamentable state and I promise you nothing will happen to you.”
Raul, who perhaps knew best what his brother was capable of, complied.