Castro Conned Cubans, Lived A Life Of Luxury While His Country Starved [Opinion]

Fidel Castro lived a life of lies and luxury while his country starved.

According to the Guardian, Fidel, who touted himself as a man of the people, claimed he made $43 a month and lived in a “fisherman’s hut” on the beach. Castro had rallied to power by overthrowing a corrupt government. When he was blacklisted by the rest of the world, he told his people that in the midst of crumbling housing, food rationing, and poverty, they were all in it together.

When he took control of Cuba in 1959 from the previous dictator, Fulgencio Batista, Castro played the part. With his shaggy beard and crumpled olive-drab fatigues, he sold the script that he was a modest man ready to share the nation’s wealth with all citizens. However, in truth, Fidel Castro was a fraud. He claimed he despised holidays and that the only luxury he afforded himself was a Havana cigar. However, the communist leader’s public image was a well-crafted one, more of fiction than fact.

While his people suffered, he lived in affluence, plundering an already impoverished nation’s wealth for his wives, mistresses, and eight children. Even in death, judging by how many Cubans are still weeping for the secretive strongman, they have no idea that he bled Cuba dry for 50 years and made his people painfully pay for it.

Castro was a serial womanizer. He cheated on his first wife, Mirta Diaz-Balart, with another man’s wife, Natalia Revuelta. He also had an affair with Celia Sanchez, his confidant and private secretary. The affair lasted more than 30 years. When she died in 1980, Fidel got married a second time to a school teacher named Dalia. The Cuban leader also bedded his French interpreter, English interpreter, Cuban airline stewardesses, and nightclub dancers. He was nicknamed the “Horse” because of his appetite for young Cuban women of all shapes and sizes.

Away from the public eye, Castro lived like a king. He owned over 20 lavish properties throughout the Caribbean and a private island of his own. El Comandante even had his own personal blood donors who followed him everywhere he went in case he needed an emergency blood transfusion.

In 2006, Forbes listed Castro among its top 10 richest kings, queens and dictators, insinuating that the dictator was milking proceeds from state-run enterprises to line his pockets, including a gold mine. He also provided a safe haven for Colombian drug traffickers looking to get their contraband into America for plenty of cash. Fidel Castro has always debunked claims that he was a wealthy man.

Juan Reinaldo Sanchez was Castro’s bodyguard for 17 years. He fled Cuba after becoming disillusioned with The Commander’s double life. In his book, The Double life of Fidel Castro, the former aide revealed his boss discovered the island of Cayo Piedra when CIA-trained exiles tried to overthrow his government and used to hang out there with his family and cronies.

The former bodyguard said the Cuban leader built a mansion on the island along with a 200-foot-long jetty to accommodate his private yacht. The Aquarma was an 88-foot luxury yacht fitted out with rare Angolan wood, a gift from former Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev. Sanchez said the private island had a floating restaurant, guest houses, a helipad, two deep-sea fishing speedboats, a turtle farm, and two pet dolphins to keep his children entertained.

The island, which was less than 20 miles off the coast of Havana, was not known to many people. The former loyalist in his book said the Castro-controlled media made sure of that. Sanchez said Castro’s best friends, including Colombian author Gabriel Garcia, former East German communist leader Erich Honecker, and CNN founder Ted Turner, made frequent trips to the island.

Castro, who was said to be allegedly worth $900 million before he died, had a particular love for spear fishing. Juan Sanchez likened the expeditions to the “royal hunts of Louis XV in the forests around Versailles.” In detail, the former aide said Castro would wake up by midday and be dressed by people who knelt before him. According to him, his boss would then set sail, looking for fish in a speed boat stacked with expensive whisky and sumptuous seafood.

According to the Inquisitr, apart from living the good life, Castro also had a knack for eluding death. He escaped over 600 assassination attempts before he ironically died of natural causes at the age of 90.

On the mainland, Castro also owned a sprawling Havana estate with a personal hospital, indoor basketball court, and a rooftop bowling alley. Sanchez said the estate was like the Garden of Eden, an irony considering that the rest of the country needed a compulsory ration book to eat food.

“With its orange, lemon, mandarin, grapefruit and banana trees, the estate resembled a veritable garden of Eden-especially if one compared it with the notorious ration book that all Cubans had to use to buy food.”

He also had a seaside villa replete with a sauna, Jacuzzi, and pool. According to sources, he also owned his own ice cream factory known as the Punto Cero or Unit 160.

The communist leader was scared of being poisoned and sourced most of his food from overseas. Each member of his family had a personal cow “so as to satisfy each one’s individual taste, since the acidity and creaminess of fresh milk varies from one cow to another.”

Juan Sanchez was raised by his mother after his father fled to the U.S. After three years of compulsory military service, a young Juan was picked as a bodyguard for Castro because of his prowess in martial arts and with guns. He became Fidel Castro’s right-hand man and followed him everywhere.

He said Castro was like “a god to him” until he heard a 1988 conversation involving his revered leader and Colombian drug dealers. He said that “it was as if the sky had fallen in on me.” In 1994, Sanchez put in an application to retire but instead was thrown in jail for two years for insubordination.

When he was released in 1996, he tried to escape Cuba 10 times. He finally succeeded in 2008, reaching Mexico by boat, entering the U.S. illegally and settling down in Miami. Two weeks after Sanchez published his book about his former boss in the U.S., he died of a lung infection.

Many Cuban-Americans believed that Castro’s agents based in Miami poisoned him.

[Featured Image by Marty Lederhandler/AP Images]