Miami getting a cluster of Castros
Five of Fidel's family now calling it home
BY CAROL ROSENBERG
Two other branches of Fidel Castro's family tree sprouted in
Miami on Wednesday, a day after the revelation that a
daughter of the Cuban leader had immigrated to Miami on a
visa she won in a State Department lottery.
One is a young girl, a Castro granddaughter, who lives here
anonymously with her mother. The other is Alina Fernández,
Castro's daughter who sneaked out of Cuba with a wig
and a Spanish passport in 1993 and moved to South
Florida this week.
``I felt I wanted to come back to my people, my race, my
friends, everything,'' Fernández told The Herald. ``I think I
have accumulated enough experience to have something to
contribute. Geographically, I want to be closer to Cuba, too.''
Fernández, who until this week lived in Madrid, said she
moved here with the promise of a writing job. She declined to
name the publication but said it was based in Miami.
Where will she live?
``Where else? Little Havana,'' she replied, adding that her
daughter Alina ``Mumín'' Salgado, 23, already lives here.
Fernández, daughter of Castro's revolutionary lover, Naty
Revuelta, said she did not know a half-sister whose
existence was revealed by her aunt, pharmacist Juanita
Castro Ruz of Coral Gables, in a Talk magazine article
But she said she looked forward to meeting the woman,
whom Juanita Castro identified to The Herald on Wednesday
as Francisca Pupo, ``a really good person, a person who
doesn't want to talk about her father. She's a very quiet
person, and I respect her.''
Pupo, in her 40s, arrived in South Florida more than two
years ago with her husband after winning a visa under a
lottery run by the U.S. Interests Section in Havana. She left
behind an adult daughter in Cuba, who has a son -- Fidel
Castro's great-grandson, Juanita Castro said.
Because Fidel Castro's personal life is a virtual state secret,
it's not known how many children he has, or with how many
Spanish radio personality Salvador Lew confirmed Pupo's
existence and the lottery story (``Unbelievable, no?'') and
described Pupo as the daughter of a woman from Santa
Clara who had had a romance with Castro in the 1950s.
`SHE'S VERY LOW-KEY'
``She's not involved in any politics. She's very low-key,'' he
said, adding that some Miami residents know her
connection to Castro but ``they don't say anything to her.''
She works at a day-care center in Miami, although its name
and location have not been identified.
In addition, it emerged Wednesday that Castro had yet
another granddaughter here as well -- the child of a former
lover of one of Castro's sons, Alex.
Alex is the son of Fidel Castro and his current wife, Dalia
Soto del Valle.
``She's a preteen, maybe 10 or 11,'' said Joe Garcia,
executive director of the Cuban American National
Foundation, declining to give even the child's first name.
Her mother immigrated here a few years ago with the child.
Castro's son Alex is still in Havana.
Alina Fernández said she knew the little girl as well, before
she left Cuba in 1993, and hoped to catch up with her.
Garcia and others said Castro kin living here have mostly
sought to lead low-key lives beyond the limelight of Miami's
politically charged exile community.
``They just want to be able to be human beings, something
that is not allowed in Cuba,'' he said. ``Miami is the closest
place to Cuba where you don't have to be scared 24-7.''
Fernández has been the exception. She was an outspoken
critic of her father after her defection during the years that
she lived in New York, Atlanta and Spain.
So, with the latest revelations, the count on the Miami
branch of the Castro family tree would be at least two
grandchildren, two daughters and the Cuban leader's kid
sister, Juanita, 68, who has long owned the Mini Price
Pharmacy on Southwest 27th Street.
Juanita Castro, a U.S. citizen who left Cuba in 1964 and
drives a 1996 Cadillac Seville, declined to discuss
Fernández on Wednesday.
``Don't mention that name!'' Castro said.
A bitter breakup between aunt and niece emerged after
Fernández's book, Castro's Daughter -- An Exile's Memoir of
Cuba, included harsh remarks about Juanita and Fidel's
mother, Fernández's grandmother.