The Miami Herald
Wednesday, July 11, 2001

Castro daughter is working in Miami


 Cuban President Fidel Castro has a daughter named Francisca living quietly in Miami. She is in her late 40s, moved here two years ago, works at a day care center, and has no desire to say anything bad about her papa. So writes Ann Louise Bardach, a contributing editor of Talk magazine, in a 10-page piece on Castro about "the movie star dictator.''

 The revelation comes from Lazaro Asencio, 75, a former Castro comandante now living in Miami, and is confirmed by pharmacist Juanita Castro, 68, Fidel's sister. "It's more than true,'' Castro told The Herald on Tuesday from her Mini-Price Pharmacy.

 Bardach says she did not interview Francisca, and agreed not to use her last name. ``She wants her privacy. She's doesn't want to be a public figure. For better or for worse, it's her father.''

 Here is what Asencio told Bardach: ``Fidel told me one night -- he used to talk with me a lot late at night -- that he had over 15 children.

 "In November 1952, Fidel was in Santa Clara and said, 'I need to borrow your car.' I said sure, and Fidel and another guy took these two young girls for a ride. "Seven years later, I am in my office and I see the young lady from that day.''

 (By then, she had become a mother and a little girl accompanied her.) ``She asked me, `Do you know who this girl is? This is my daughter. And she is Fidel Castro's
 daughter, and the relationship happened in your car.

 "She said, 'All I want is that when you see Fidel you tell him that I had a daughter with him.' When I saw Fidel in Havana I said, `Look, there's this girl who came to see me and she told me she has a daughter with you. She said she had been unable to tell you.' And he said, 'It's true.'

 "I learned that later he put Raul [Castro] in charge to take care of the little girl; he organized parties for her. He gave her a good house in Santa Clara, and the little girl grew up and today must be 48. Now she's here in Miami.''

 Juanita Castro told Bardach: `"She came to Miami about two years ago; she's a nice girl . . . She teaches in a day care school. She came with her husband when she
 won a visa from the lottery.

 "Fidel took care of her. Her mother married a man who adopted her. I help her with some money every month. She's not bitter. She doesn't want to say anything bad about Fidel. He's her father and she doesn't want to say anything that can hurt him. And I respect her decision.''

 Bardach, 51, has written extensively about Cuba and its exile community -- and twice interviewed Castro. In the article in Talk, a general interest magazine with a
 circulation of about 619,000, Bardach also quoted former California Gov. Jerry Brown on Fidel's relationship with Elián González, the little boy whose arrival in the United States set off an international custody dispute.

 Said Brown, now mayor of Oakland: "This kid, Elián, is really destined to do some great stuff, that's all I can say. . . . Castro is always going to make sure the kid gets whatever he needs to advance himself. I think he's grooming Elián as his successor.''

 Bardach is finishing up a book titled Troubled Waters: The Miami-Havana Showdown for Random House, due out next year.