May 6, 1933 |
Birán, Holguín Province, Cuba
|Relations||Ángel Castro y Argiz (father)
Ramón Castro Ruz (brother)
Fidel Castro (brother)
Raúl Castro (brother)
Alina Fernández (niece)
Mariela Castro (niece)
Alejandro Castro Espín (nephew)
Juana de la Caridad (Juanita) Castro Ruz (born May 6, 1933) is a sister of former Cuban President Fidel Castro and current President Raúl Castro. After working as a CIA agent in Cuba, she has been living in the United States since 1964.
Juanita was born in Birán, near Mayarí, in what is now known as Holguín Province. She is the fourth child of Ángel Castro y Argiz and Lina Ruz González, and has three brothers — Ramón, Fidel, and Raúl — and three sisters — Angelita, Enma, and Agustina. The family also has five half siblings: Lidia, Pedro Emilio, Manuel, Antonia, and Georgina, who were raised by Ángel Castro's first wife Maria Luisa Argota. Ángel Castro also had at least one other son, named Martin, born in 1930, the son of a farmhand named Generosa Mendoza, according to Bardach's ''Without Fidel: A Death Foretold in Miami, Havana and Washington. Martin, 80, continues to live on the family property in Birán.
In the Revolution
Juanita, like all the Castros siblings, was active in the Cuban revolution, buying weapons for the 26th of July movement during their campaign against Fulgencio Batista. In 1958 Juanita traveled to the U.S. to raise funds. After the revolution Juanita felt betrayed by the growing influence of Cuban communists over the Cuban government.
Fidel and Raúl's government policies clashed with family interests, which included their older brother Ramón. When the two revolutionaries insisted on imposing "agrarian reform" on some of the family estates, Ramón, who had been maintaining the property, angrily exploded, "Raúl is a dirty little Communist. Some day I am going to kill him."
Opposition to Fidel's policies
In this climate, Juanita started collaborating with the CIA. In 1964 she left Cuba, staying with her sister Enma, who had left Cuba earlier when she married a Mexican in Cuba before emigrating to the United States. Upon her arrival in Mexico she called a press conference and announced that she had defected from Cuba. "I cannot longer remain indifferent to what is happening in my country," she said. "My brothers Fidel and Raúl have made it an enormous prison surrounded by water. The people are nailed to a cross of torment imposed by international Communism."
Juanita Castro in the immediate post-revolutionary period was credited with helping at least 200 people leave Cuba, as part of her work with the CIA. According to a 1964 article in Time magazine "after the mother Lina Ruz died, there was a violent episode when Fidel decided to expropriate the family land once and for all. Juanita started selling the cattle; Fidel flew into a rage, denounced her as a 'counterrevolutionary worm,' and rushed to the Oriente farm."
In 1998, Juanita filed a lawsuit in Spain against her niece Alina Fernández, her brother Fidel Castro's illegitimate daughter, for libel over some passages in Fernández's autobiography, Castro's Daughter: An Exile's Memoir of Cuba, that was published the same year. The Spanish court ordered Fernández and Plaza & Janes, the Barcelona Random House division that published the book, to pay $45,000 to Juanita. Juanita claimed the book defamed her family stating: "People who were eating off Fidel's plate yesterday come here and want money and power, so they say whatever they want, even if it's not true."
On October 25, 2009, Juanita Castro told Univision's WLTV-23 she initially supported her brother's 1959 overthrow of the Batista dictatorship but quickly became disillusioned. Her home became a sanctuary for anti-Communists before she fled the island in 1964. In the TV interview, Juanita Castro says she was approached by the CIA.
After leaving Cuba, Juanita settled in Miami in 1964 and opened a pharmacy called Mini Price in 1973. She became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1984. In December 2006 she sold her pharmacy business to CVS after being open for 35 years. The building and the property were later sold to Shell Lumber.
- Bardach, Ann Louise: Cuba Confidential. p57-59
- Castro Family Values Ann Louise Bardach, The Daily Beast, September 20, 2009
- Time MagazineBitter Family 1
- Cuba Confidential by Ann Lousie Bardach; page 57
- ReutersI worked with the CIA
- Time MagazineBitter Family 2
- Pablo Bachelet (2005-08-09). "Post-Castro Cuba will be 'a big mess,' speaker says". Cuba News / The Miami Herald. cubanet.org. Retrieved 2008-02-19.
- "Castro's sister says she collaborated with CIA". Associated Press. 2009-10-26. Retrieved 2009-10-26.[dead link]
- "Castro's sister 'spied for CIA'". BBC News. 26 October 2009.
- "Castro's sister shuts Miami pharmacy". The Miami Herald. 2007-02-28. Retrieved 2011-08-04.
^ "The Bitter Family (page 1 of 2)". Time Magazine. 1964-07-10. Retrieved 2008-02-19.
^ "The Bitter Family (page 2 of 2)". Time Magazine. 1964-07-10. Retrieved 2008-02-19.
^ "Fidel Castro's sister: I worked with CIA in Cuba". Reuters. 2009-10-26. Retrieved 2009-10-26.
- Castro, Juanita; as told to Maria Antonieta Collins (2009). Fidel y Raul - Mis Hermanos, La Historia Secreta. Santillana USA Publishing Company, Inc. ISBN 978-1-60396-701-3.
- "Castro sister hits out at exiles". BBC. 2006-08-03. Retrieved 2008-02-19.
- Carol Rosenber (2001-07-12). "Miami getting a cluster of Castros". Miami Herald. Retrieved 2008-02-19.
- "News on Cuba from The Homestead Independent 1965-1968". cuban-exile.com. Retrieved 2008-02-19.
- The Life of Juanita Castro 1965 at the Internet Movie Database
- Lourdes Garcia-Navarro (2006-12-26). "NPR: Juanita Castro Plots an Independent Path in Exile". National Public Radio. Retrieved 2008-02-19. (has link to 6 min 42 sec audio)