The Miami Herald
July 12, 2001

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.''

                                      OUTSPOKEN CRITIC

                                      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.