daniels day2day in garanhuns

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Juanita Castro on the news out of Cuba

pretty good article in todays herald on juanita castro and the news out of cuba..
Cuban leader's sister not crying, not cheering
While her big brother has ruled Cuba for more than four decades, Juanita Castro Ruz presides over a small local pharmacy -- and tries to keep a low profile.
The only place in Cuban Miami, it seemed, not abuzz with the excited chatter of exiles was a small pharmacy off Southwest 27th Avenue -- a tacit courtesy toward its diminutive and elegantly dressed owner, the little sister of a man most consider a ruthless dictator.
No joyous exclamations of Cuba libre. No chisme, or gossip, about the stricken Fidel Castro.
''People have been respectful,'' said Juanita Castro Ruz, who fled the island more than 40 years ago after working with the underground against her brothers Fidel and Raúl. An ailing Fidel this week handed Raúl Castro temporary control over the island's communist government.
''I have differences with my brother, ideological and political,'' said Castro, who owns the Mini Price pharmacy at 2671 SW 27th Ave. and has largely shied away from the often contentious nature of exile politics.
Tuesday was no different, with the 73-year-old Castro emphasizing she had nothing to say about her 79-year-old brother, his illness or the state of affairs in her homeland.
''I'm not going to be making any declarations about that,'' she said, idly straightening a row of Advil bottles.
Nearby, her team of pharmacists made polite chitchat with elderly patients awaiting prescriptions. No one brought up anything remotely related to Cuba, and Castro said she takes pains to ignore local Spanish-language stations -- especially on a day like this.
''I never listen to the radio. There is so much hatred in this community. And they will say that all Castros are the same,'' she said. ``And that is a lie.''
While she is no fan of her brother's politics and chose to live her life in exile, she said she had mixed feelings about the hordes of celebrators who took to the street the night before, leaning on car horns well past midnight.
''Ninety-nine percent of them didn't have the courage to stay and fight,'' she said.
The man so many people publicly hoped was dead -- or at the very least, dying -- is family, after all.
''This is a spectacle, all this happiness,'' she said, shaking her head. ``I can only say that I am human.''
Before she defected to the United States in 1964, Juanita Castro operated a boarding house for university girls -- at least publicly. Her home in Havana, next-door to a Chinese laundry, was also known for running a supply house and escape route for those opposed to her two big brothers.
She is fiercely protective of her family name, nonetheless.
Last year, she won a libel suit in Spain against Alina Fernández Revuelta, the illegitimate daughter of the Cuban ruler, who defected 15 years ago.
Castro sued over passages in Fernández's book, Alina: The Memoirs of Fidel Castro's Rebel Daughter, which she said libeled her parents.
The book depicted Angel Castro -- father of Fidel, Raúl and Juanita -- as a murderous land baron who exploited his workers, and their mother, Lina, as a mixed-race peasant who practiced witchcraft.
Fernández, who hosts an evening radio program on WQBA, has said the book was accurate and based on previously published material.
She could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
Juanita Castro said she does not recognize Fernández as family. She has no children of her own and said she has ''been talking with people'' in Cuba about her brother's health, but declined to elaborate.
''Los lazos de sangre son fuertes,'' she said with a shrug. The ties of blood are strong.

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