Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro had a perfectly constructed persona shown to the world: a ragtag revolutionary who bowed to no one.
But a former bodyguard to the longtime leader shares in a new book about Castro’s alleged luxurious lifestyle and drug-smuggling schemes to the United States.
In “The Double Life of Fidel Castro: My 17 Years as Personal Bodyguard to El Lider Maximo,” Juan Reinaldo Sanchez opens up about how he became disillusioned with the ex-Cuban leader after 17 years of service.
In an excerpt posted in the New York Post, Sanchez claims he overheard a Castro meeting with former Cuban Gen. Jose Abrantes, who was later stripped of his ranks, in which the two discussed the drug trafficking business to the United States.
“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 writes. “And what business! Very simple, a huge drug-trafficking transaction was being carried out at the highest echelons of the state.”
Sanchez, 88, went on to describe the conversation – he allegedly heard through the closed-circuit security televisions monitoring Castro’s office building – in which Castro seemed to be “directing illegal operations like a real godfather.”
“(Castro’s) reasoning was as follows: If the Yanks were stupid enough to use drugs that came from Colombia, not only was that not his problem … it served his revolutionary objectives in the sense that it corrupted and destabilized American society,” he wrote in the book.
Furthermore, Sanchez accuses Castro of covering up his involvement in the drug trafficking scheme by engineering sham trials in 1986 that led to the death of Abrantes and army Gen. Arnaldo Ochoa.
“The Machiavellian Fidel, while declaring himself ‘appalled’ by what he pretended to have discovered, claimed that ‘the most honest imaginable political and judicial process’ was under way,” wrote Sanchez.
Instead, Castro pulled the strings behind the scenes, censoring the filmed trials and even going as far as dictating when there would be a break, Sanchez claimed.
Sanchez has previously said he lost trust in the Castro regime after his brother escaped from Cuba in 1994.
He said he sought retirement and refused transfers, which led to imprisonment for two years for insubordination. Sanchez escaped the island via boat to Mexico before crossing into the United States across the Texas border in 2008.
This is not the first time Sanchez has made such claims against his former boss. He spoke to the Miami Herald last year when the French version of his book was released.