For those with communist leanings, former Cuban leader Fidel Castro conjures up the idea of a true and untainted revolutionary hero. But his body guard of 17 years says this is false and that he has secretly led a lavish and indulgent lifestyle.
Not only that, but former bodyguard Juan Reinaldo Sanchez said that Castro oversaw drug trafficking operations into the U.S. and had at least one of his own generals killed to cover his own tracks.
Apart from being a bodyguard and skilled marksman, Sanchez was an intelligence officer with the Cuban Ministry of Interior and held a Masters of Law. He was a black-belt in karate and trained Castro’s other bodyguards. He also organized many of the Cuban dictator’s trips overseas.
But the day that Sanchez learned of Castro’s drug dealings in 1988 pretty much changed his world view. At a meeting between Castro and his head of security General José Abrantes, Sanchez was instructed not to record it as per usual practice.
Sanchez may have not recorded the meeting, but he listened in.
“Their conversation centered on a Cuban lanchero [someone who smuggles drugs by boat] living in the United States, apparently conducting business with the government,” Sanchez wrote in an excerpt of his book The Double Life of Fidel Castro: My 17 Years as Personal Bodyguard to El Lider Maximo, which was published in the New York Post.
“And what business! Very simply, a huge drug-trafficking transaction was being carried out at the highest echelons of the state.”
After detailing how the drug smuggler would be managed, Sanchez reflected on that he learned.
“I realized that the man for whom I had long sacrificed my life, the [leader] whom I worshiped like a god and who counted more in my eyes than my own family, was caught up in cocaine trafficking to such an extent that he was directing illegal operations like a real godfather,” Sanchez wrote.
The ultimate goal however, Sanchez stated, was not about money, but to hurt America.
Drug trafficking was a ‘weapon of revolutionary struggle.’
Sanchez said that the U.S. began making noises about the drug operations, and to take the heat off himself, Castro had respected revolutionary general Arnaldo Ochoa executed after a sham trial. General José Abrantes, who Sanchez overheard with Castro, was also sent to prison where he would die.
The execution of Ochoa and others was also videotaped.
“Castro made us watch it. That’s what the Comandante was capable of to keep his power: not just of killing, but also of humiliating and reducing to nothing men who had served him devotedly,” Sanchez wrote.
The incident, Sanchez stated, turned Castro’s own brother Raul into a drunkard.
Eventually, Sanchez himself fell out with Castro, which resulted in him being jailed for two years, reported the Miami Herald. After 10 failed attempts to defect, Sanchez eventually escaped to the U.S. in 2008.
In his interview with the Miami Herald, Sanchez said that Castro led an indulgent lifestyle that included 20 luxury homes, yachts, and multiple overseas bank accounts. He also had a private island getaway where he would invite the likes of CNN owner Ted Turner and Erich Honecker, head of the former communist-run East Germany.
“He always claims he lives frugally. Lies. He lives in a luxury that most Cubans can’t even imagine,” Sanchez said.