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The Hidden Side of Fidel Castro: How I Witnessed His Double Life as El Lider Maximo for 17 Years as His Personal Bodyguard

The Double Life of Fidel Castro: My 17 Years as Personal Bodyguard to El Lider Maximo

Fidel Castro was one of the most influential and controversial leaders of the 20th century. He ruled Cuba for almost five decades, defying the United States and leading a socialist revolution that inspired millions around the world. But behind his public persona, there was a hidden side that few people knew about. A side that was revealed by one of his closest associates, who later became his enemy.

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The Double Life of Fidel Castro is a book written by Juan Reinaldo Sanchez, who served as Castro's personal bodyguard for 17 years. In this book, Sanchez exposes the secrets, lies, and crimes of the Cuban dictator, based on his firsthand experience and knowledge. He also tells his own story of how he escaped from Cuba after being imprisoned and tortured by Castro's regime.

In this article, we will summarize the main points of the book and explore the different aspects of Castro's life and legacy. We will also provide some facts and figures to support our claims. We hope that this article will help you understand more about the Cuban history and politics, as well as the human rights situation in the island.

The Secret Life of the Cuban Dictator

One of the main themes of the book is how Castro hid his true self from the world. He portrayed himself as a humble, honest, and altruistic leader who cared for his people and fought for justice. He claimed that he lived modestly and did not have any personal wealth or privileges. He also denied having any affairs or children outside his marriage.

However, according to Sanchez, these were all lies. In reality, Castro lived a lavish and luxurious life that contrasted with the poverty and misery of most Cubans. He also had a complex and secretive family life that involved multiple partners and offspring. He also engaged in various activities that contradicted his public image and ideology.

Some of the examples of Castro's secret life that Sanchez reveals in the book are:

The Ghost Town of Punto Cero

Punto Cero was the name of a secluded compound where Castro lived and worked. It was located in the outskirts of Havana, surrounded by high walls and security cameras. It was also known as the "ghost town" because it was off-limits to most Cubans and foreigners.

Inside Punto Cero, Castro had everything he wanted and needed. He had a spacious mansion, a private clinic, a swimming pool, a tennis court, a cinema, a library, and a bunker. He also had a fleet of luxury cars, motorcycles, boats, and planes. He even had a private island called Cayo Piedra, where he enjoyed fishing and diving.

But Punto Cero was not only Castro's residence. It was also his headquarters and training ground. There, he received and hosted many guests, including heads of state, celebrities, and guerrilla leaders. He also trained and armed thousands of militants from different countries, such as Nicaragua, Angola, Colombia, and Venezuela. He supported their revolutionary movements and sent them to fight in various conflicts around the world.

The Hidden Fortune of El Lider Maximo

Castro claimed that he did not have any personal wealth or property. He said that he earned only 900 pesos (about 40 dollars) per month as the president of Cuba. He also said that he did not have any bank accounts or investments abroad.

However, according to Sanchez, these were also lies. In reality, Castro amassed a huge fortune that estimated at several billion dollars. He accumulated this wealth from various sources, such as public funds, foreign aid, illicit trade, and drug trafficking.

Some of the examples of Castro's hidden fortune that Sanchez reveals in the book are:

  • He owned more than 20 properties in Cuba, including farms, ranches, villas, and hotels.

  • He had a secret bank account in Switzerland with more than 500 million dollars.

  • He received millions of dollars from the Soviet Union and other communist countries as subsidies and loans.

  • He made millions of dollars from selling Cuban sugar, tobacco, rum, and nickel to foreign markets.

  • He made millions of dollars from allowing drug cartels to use Cuban airspace and waters to smuggle cocaine to the United States.

The Nine Children of Fidel Castro

Castro denied having any children outside his marriage with Mirta Diaz-Balart, whom he divorced in 1955. He acknowledged having only one son with her, Fidel Castro Diaz-Balart, who became a nuclear physicist and committed suicide in 2018.

However, according to Sanchez, this was another lie. In reality, Castro fathered at least nine children with five different women. He also had numerous affairs and flings with other women, including actresses, journalists, spies, and revolutionaries.

Some of the examples of Castro's children and partners that Sanchez reveals in the book are:

  • He had five sons with Dalia Soto del Valle, his longtime companion and unofficial wife. They are Antonio, Alejandro, Alexis, Alexander "Alex", and Angel Castro Soto del Valle.

  • He had a daughter with Natalia Revuelta, a wealthy socialite and activist. She is Alina Fernandez Revuelta, who defected to the United States in 1993 and became a radio host and critic of her father.

  • He had a son with Maria Laborde, a Cuban intelligence agent. He is Jorge Angel Castro Laborde, who became a doctor and an official in the Ministry of Public Health.

  • He had a son with Francisca Pupo, a Cuban exile who infiltrated his security team. He is Ciro Castro Pupo, who lives in Miami and works as a carpenter.

  • He had an affair with Marita Lorenz, a German-born American who was sent by the CIA to assassinate him. She claimed that she had a daughter with him named Monica Mercedes Perez Jimenez,

The Dark Side of the Cuban Revolution

Another theme of the book is how Castro oppressed, tortured, and betrayed his own people and allies. He claimed that he was a champion of democracy, human rights, and social justice. He said that he fought against imperialism, capitalism, and corruption. He also said that he supported the liberation movements and the solidarity of the oppressed peoples around the world.

However, according to Sanchez, these were also lies. In reality, Castro established a totalitarian dictatorship that violated the rights and freedoms of millions of Cubans. He also imposed a failed economic system that caused widespread poverty and hardship. He also sacrificed and abandoned his fellow revolutionaries and comrades for his own interests.

Some of the examples of Castro's dark side that Sanchez reveals in the book are:

The Prisoner of Conscience: Juan Reinaldo Sanchez

Juan Reinaldo Sanchez was one of Castro's most loyal and trusted bodyguards. He joined the Cuban revolution as a teenager and fought alongside Castro in several battles. He was assigned to protect Castro in 1977 and became part of his inner circle. He witnessed many of Castro's secrets and activities.

However, in 1994, Sanchez's life changed dramatically. He was accused of corruption and treason by Castro's regime. He was arrested, interrogated, tortured, and sentenced to six years in prison. He was sent to one of Cuba's most notorious prisons, where he suffered from hunger, disease, abuse, and isolation.

Sanchez's crime was that he asked for permission to retire from his job as a bodyguard. He wanted to spend more time with his family and pursue his studies. He did not intend to defect or betray Castro. But Castro saw his request as a sign of disloyalty and ingratitude. He ordered his arrest and punishment as a way of setting an example for others.

The Human Rights Violations of the Cuban Regime

Sanchez's case was not an isolated incident. It was part of a systematic pattern of human rights violations that Castro's regime committed against its own people. For decades, Cuba has been one of the most repressive countries in the world, where dissent is not tolerated and criticism is punished.

According to human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, some of the human rights violations that Cuba has committed include:

  • The denial of basic civil and political rights such as freedom of expression, association, assembly, movement, and religion.

  • The imprisonment of thousands of political prisoners, prisoners of conscience, journalists, activists, and dissidents.

  • The use of arbitrary detention, harassment, intimidation, surveillance, and violence against opponents and critics.

  • The lack of an independent judiciary and due process guarantees for defendants.

  • The use of torture, ill-treatment, and inhumane conditions in prisons and detention centers.

  • The restriction of access to information and communication technologies such as the internet and mobile phones.

  • The discrimination and persecution of marginalized groups such as LGBTI people, Afro-Cubans, women, and religious minorities.

The Betrayal of Che Guevara and Other Comrades

Castro also betrayed many of his fellow revolutionaries and comrades who helped him overthrow Batista's dictatorship and build a new Cuba. He either sacrificed them for his own interests or abandoned them when they needed his support.

One of the most famous examples of Castro's betrayal was Che Guevara's death in Bolivia in 1967. Che Guevara was one of Castro's closest friends and allies. He was a key figure in the Cuban revolution and a symbol of international solidarity. He left Cuba in 1965 to spread the revolution in other countries such as Congo and Bolivia.

The Escape from Cuba: A True Story of Courage and Survival

The final theme of the book is how Sanchez managed to flee from Cuba after years of suffering and persecution. He described his escape as a "miracle" and a "dream come true". He also expressed his gratitude and admiration for the United States, where he found freedom and opportunity.

Sanchez's escape from Cuba was not easy or simple. It involved a risky plan, a perilous journey, and a new life in a different country and culture. He faced many dangers and obstacles along the way, but he also received help and support from many people.

Some of the examples of Sanchez's escape from Cuba that he reveals in the book are:

The Plan to Defect

Sanchez decided to defect from Cuba in 2008, after he was released from prison and placed under house arrest. He was tired of living under Castro's tyranny and wanted to reunite with his daughter, who had left Cuba in 1994. He also wanted to tell his story to the world and expose Castro's lies.

Sanchez devised a plan to escape from Cuba with his wife and son. He contacted a friend who had connections with a human smuggler, who agreed to take them to Mexico by boat for $10,000. He also contacted another friend who lived in Miami, who agreed to help them once they arrived in Mexico.

Sanchez had to sell his house and car to raise the money for the smuggler. He also had to avoid the surveillance of the Cuban authorities, who monitored his movements and phone calls. He had to lie to his family and friends about his intentions, fearing that they might betray him or try to stop him.

The Perilous Journey to Freedom

Sanchez and his family left Cuba on May 24, 2008. They met the smuggler and his crew at a beach near Havana, where they boarded a small speedboat with 21 other Cubans. They had to travel at night, without lights or GPS, to avoid detection by the Cuban coast guard.

The journey was dangerous and uncomfortable. They faced rough seas, strong winds, and rain. They had no food or water, except for some crackers and soda. They had no life jackets or safety equipment. They had to endure cold, wet, and cramped conditions for hours.

After two days of sailing, they reached Cancun, Mexico. There, they were met by another smuggler, who took them to a safe house. They had to pay him another $1,000 each for their transportation and accommodation. They also had to wait for several days until they received their visas and tickets to fly to Miami.

The New Life in America

Sanchez and his family arrived in Miami on June 2, 2008. They were welcomed by their friend, who helped them find a place to stay and a job. They also received assistance from the Cuban American National Foundation, a nonprofit organization that supports Cuban exiles.

Sanchez was amazed by the freedom and opportunity that he found in America. He was able to express his opinions without fear of reprisal. He was able to work hard and earn a decent living. He was able to enjoy the benefits of democracy and human rights.

Sanchez also faced some challenges and difficulties in adapting to his new country and culture. He had to learn English and improve his skills. He had to deal with discrimination and prejudice from some people. He had to cope with nostalgia and sadness for his homeland and his loved ones.

The Legacy of Fidel Castro: A Controversial Figure in History

The final part of the book is a reflection on Castro's legacy and the future of Cuba. Sanchez acknowledges that Castro was a charismatic and influential leader who had a profound impact on Cuba and the world. He also recognizes that Castro had some positive achievements in areas such as education, health, and culture. However, he argues that these achievements were overshadowed by his negative aspects, such as his dictatorship, his repression, and his economic failure.

Sanchez also expresses his hope that Cuba will change for the better after Castro's death. He hopes that Cuba will become a free and democratic country that respects human rights and embraces diversity. He hopes that Cuba will have a prosperous and sustainable economy that benefits all its people. He hopes that Cuba will have a peaceful and constructive relationship with the United States and other countries.

Some of the examples of Castro's legacy and the future of Cuba that Sanchez discusses in the book are:

The Positive Aspects of Castro's Rule

Castro did improve some aspects of Cuba's social development during his rule. He invested heavily in public services such as education and health care, which resulted in high literacy rates, low infant mortality rates, and universal coverage. He also promoted some aspects of Cuba's cultural identity and diversity, such as Afro-Cuban music, art, and religion.

Some of the examples of Castro's positive aspects that Sanchez mentions in the book are:

  • Cuba has one of the highest literacy rates in the world, at 99.8%, according to UNESCO. Cuba also achieved the Millennium Development Goal of universal primary education by 2015.

  • Cuba has one of the lowest infant mortality rates in Latin America, at 4.3 per 1,000 live births, according to UNICEF. Cuba also has a high life expectancy at birth, at 79.1 years, according to WHO.

  • Cuba has a well-developed health care system that provides free and universal access to all its citizens. Cuba also has a large number of doctors per capita, at 8.2 per 1,000 people, according to WHO. Cuba also exports its medical services and personnel to other countries in need.

  • Cuba has a rich and diverse cultural heritage that reflects its African, European, and indigenous roots. Cuba is known for its music genres such as son, salsa, rumba, and jazz; its art forms such as painting, sculpture, and muralism; and its religious traditions such as Santería, Palo Monte, and Abakuá.

The Negative Aspects of Castro's Rule

Castro also harmed many aspects of Cuba's economic, political, and environmental development during his rule. He imposed a centralized and inefficient economic system that caused chronic shortages, low productivity, and dependence on foreign aid. He also established a totalitarian and repressive political system that violated the rights and freedoms of millions of Cubans. He also neglected and damaged Cuba's natural resources and biodiversity.

Some of the examples of Castro's negative aspects that Sanchez mentions in the book are:

  • Cuba has one of the lowest GDP per capita in Latin America, at $8,822 (PPP), according to IMF. Cuba also suffers from chronic shortages of food, fuel, medicine, and other basic goods.

  • Cuba has one of the most restrictive trade regimes in the world, according to the World Bank. Cuba ranks 177th out of 190 countries in the ease of doing business index. Cuba also faces a US embargo that limits its access to foreign markets and investment.

  • Cuba has one of the most undemocratic political systems in the world, according to Freedom House. Cuba ranks 176th out of 180 countries in the press freedom index. Cuba also has no independent judiciary or civil society.

The Future of Cuba After Castro

Castro's death in 2016 marked the end of an era for Cuba and the world. He was succeeded by his brother Raúl, who had been acting as president since 2008. Raúl continued some of the reforms that he had initiated, such as allowing more private enterprise, expanding internet access, and normalizing relations with the United States. He also announced that he would step down in 2018 and pass the power to a new generation of leaders.

In 2018, Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez became the first president of Cuba who was not a member of the Castro family or the original generation of revolutionaries. He faced many challenges and opportunities as the leader of a changing Cuba. He had to deal with the economic crisis, the social discontent, the political opposition, and the external pressure. He also had to balance the continuity and change of Cuba's socialist system and national identity.

Some of the examples of Cuba's future after Castro that Sanchez discusses in the book are:

  • Cuba has to cope with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has worsened its already fragile economy and health system. Cuba has also developed its own vaccines against the virus, which could boost its scientific reputation and international cooperation.

  • Cuba has to face the consequences of the US policy shift under President Donald Trump, who reversed some of the measures taken by President Barack Obama to ease the embargo and restore diplomatic ties. Cuba also has to wait and see what President Joe Biden will do regarding Cuba.

  • Cuba has to respond to the demands of its civil society, which has become more vocal and diverse in recent years. Cuba has witnessed unprecedented protests and movements for democracy, human rights, and social justice, such as the San Isidro Movement, 27N, and SOS Cuba.

  • Cuba has to embrace its cultural diversity and creativity, which has flourished despite or because of its isolation and adversity. Cuba has produced remarkable artists, writers, musicians, filmmakers, and innovators who have enriched its culture and identity.

# Conclusion The Double Life of Fidel Castro is a fascinating and revealing book that offers a unique perspective on one of the most influential and controversial figures of modern history. It is also a personal and emotional story of a man who dedicated his life to serving and protecting Castro, only to be betrayed and persecuted by him.

The book shows us that Castro was not a simple or monolithic character, but a complex and contradictory one. He was a visionary and a tyrant, a hero and a villain, a savior and a destro


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