Fidel Castro Turns 88, Repairs Underway at His Birthplace

August 13, 2014 | Print Print |

Ban Ki Moon and Fidel Castro. Photo: by Alex Castro 30/1/2014

HAVANA TIMES — Today, August 13th, Fidel Castro reaches 88, an event celebrated in all of Cuba’s official media.

Castro, who officially left office due to serious illness in July 2006, is still the top advisor to the government of his younger brother Raul, 83.

Although many of his ministers were dismissed for corruption or incompetence, Fidel’s influence remains strong in Cuba’s foreign policy and he often meets informally with presidents and other high level dignitaries visiting the country.

The following report from Café Fuerte informs us of the repairs being done at Fidel Castro’s birthplace/museum in Biran, Holguin and includes some anecdotes about his early years.

Biran Historian: Fidel Castro Liked to Give Gifts at Age Three

Por CaféFuerte

Stories about Fidel Castro’s childhood and native home in Biran, Hoguín, are making headlines on the occasion of the former leader’s 88th birthday.

Last week, Cuba’s two major television broadcasters visited the home of the Castro family, part of the Biran Historical Complex (CHB), and gathered information on the restoration efforts underway there, as well as anecdotes about Fidel Castro’s childhood told by local historian Antonio Lopez.

Bedroom in the Castro home in Biran.

Lopez talked at length about Biran’s beauty and the “generosity of the Castro family.”

It was then that the historian offered a surprising revelation about Fidel Castro’s personality in his early childhood.

“I believe this place shaped, in good measure, the personality of that child who, as of the age of three, liked to give things to his friends as gifts whenever they headed down to the river. I have proof of this, testimonies from childhood friends to whom he gave his shoes or sailor shirt, stories about how his mother, Lina, saw a child wearing one of Fidel’s garments and found out he had given it away,” Lopez told reporters, moved.

They Never Turned their Backs on Anyone

Offering other details about the family, Lopez added that, even though the Castros attained a comfortable financial situation, they never turned their backs on anyone in the community.

“Why? Because that’s the environment they were born into, the place they grew up in. These kids had the values of that the children of farmers and Haitian immigrants, that was their upbringing,” the historian said.

The restoration work at the historic site includes the reconstruction of nearby huts, where Haitian immigrants who worked on the farm of Angel Castro Argiz, father of Fidel and Raul Castro, supposedly lived.

These huts are being rebuilt with yagua and guano leaves, though testimonies from locals who knew the place insist the Haitian farmhands lived in bunkhouses with tin roofs.

The historian said he felt proud of his work in Biran.

Sugar Cane Plantations and Mountains

“Visitors go away feeling satisfied. They leave with an immense feeling of satisfaction, thinking that these men who had a huge impact, not only on Cuba but also on all of humanity, were raised among sugar cane plantations, rivers and mountains,” Lopez remarked.

Construction work was undertaken in November of last year by local workers and experts from the Puerto Carenas construction company, attached to Office of the Historian in Havana run by Eusebio Leal.

According to Lazaro Manuel Castro, the director of the CHB, they had initially planned on replacing the roof and ceiling of the house, but the degree of deterioration of the floors and walls forced them to extend repair efforts to the entire house.

The Castro’s bedroom – including the roof, ceiling, walls and floor – had to be refurbished completely.

The restoration of 800 museum pieces and the expansion of the family graveyard, where the remains of Angel Castro Argiz and Lina Ruz Gonzalez currently lie, are part of current construction efforts. Dominga Gonzalez and Francisco Ruz, Fidel Castro’s maternal grandparents, are also buried in the lot.

Restorations Around Town

The restoration work should be completed in 2015, when an old hotel in the area and the former homer of Angela Maria Castro, Fidel and Raul Castro’s older sister (who passed away in 2012 at the age of 88), have been refurbished.

The report televised this past Monday also announced that, a mere two kilometers from the place, the town of Biran is undergoing major repair and restoration work.

The town has been reinvigorated with the building of a small bus terminal, bakery, shopping center, cultural center, library and computer club. A high school, dentist’s office, family clinic and hundreds of residences have also been restored.

“Every renovation prompts joy among the neighbors of Fidel, that builder of dreams, born not very far from here exactly 88 years ago,” journalist Abdiel Barmudez Bermudez affirmed at the close of his report.

One of the more-than-four-minute reports includes remarks by Fidel Castro, made during his last visit to the Biran home in 2003, on the occasion of Lina Ruz’ 100th anniversary.

“Everything I’ve managed to do in life, I owe my mother,” Castro said then.
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Cover photo of Daniel Ortega and Fidel Castro taken by Alex Castro 30/1/2014.


What's your opinion?

  • Fez Fernandez

    With all due respect to who might be interested or the journalists behind these pieces of work about Fidel Castro. Most cubans don’t give a *** about it any more.

    • Chupito Valdez

      Long Live ” El Comandante ” love him or hate him…. One of the few left who is a true man! No one comes close to him!

      • Carlyle MacDuff

        No one wants to come close to him. The man who said: “I do not seek power and I will not accept it.” (Santiago de Cuba, 2nd January 1959) Later he disclosed that the Revolution was not for the liberation of the people of Cuba, but for the installation of his communist dictatorship. “Revolution now, elections later”.
        “El Comandante” involved Cuba militarily in 13 foreign countries with thousands of Cubans dying. “El Comandante” gave military support to Asad of Syria when it invaded Israel on Yum Kippur.
        “El Comandante” has imposed food rationing upon the Cuban people for fifty five years. For the aged, “El Comandante’s” generosity has provided an old age pension of $8 per month. For his own family “El Comandante” has provided positions of power over the economy that exceed those of Ministers.
        There may be those who so admire such achievements and a history of dictatorial power that they in their folly think it represents “a true man” on the other hand there are those who deplore such blatant execrcise of “el poder”. They wisely don’t wish to come close to him or to to encourage others to pursue a similar path of inhumanity.

  • Carlyle MacDuff

    This article speaks of the beginning – but what about the end? What sort of grand memorial will be erected for Fidel Castro Ruz? The mausoleum at Santa Clara for Dr. Ernesto Guevara is to say the least, over the top and reflects Fidel’s passion for the grandiose not Guevara who as a genuine revolutionary would have despised such extravagance. Fidel obviously built the edifice as a shrine for all the psuedoi socialists and where they could wear their Chinese produced ‘Che’ T-shirts and feel themselves to be truly adherents to Socialismo.
    Would it be a good idea for Havana Times to run a competition to suggest the likely site for the Fide Castro Ruz memorial, factors to be incorporated in the design and estimated cost?
    My guess for the site is right in the centre of Revolution Square, to include the world’s largest cinema screen and continuously playing recordings of speeches given at that site by Fidel Castro Ruz. Cost? who cares, because it will be a state secret.

  • Moses Patterson

    Is there anyone, even the poor guy who helps Fidel change his adult diapers, who believes that a single negative word would be printed about Fidel in Cuba today?

  • George Munyan

    Ah Saint Fidel ! When will they distribute his mass produced statues (made in China)? If the child Fidel gave gifts away to the poor I am sure he stole them from his upper class neighbors. Hitler’s Germany often showed him surrounded by happy children, smiling women and loving dogs. Later of course many of the kids were bombed out of existence, the women were raped by Russian soldiers, and he killed his own dog while starving Germans ate as many of the rest as they could catch. Such is the difference between the state’s holy sainted leader and the stark reality of his legacy. Want to see the legacy of Castro? Visit the slums of Havana. Ask the new rich to see the old mansions. Perhaps try to send emails to the millions who have fled the island.

  • Carlyle MacDuff

    I AM A DISAPPOINTED MAN!
    No one has put forward a response to my proposal that Havana Times runs a competition to suggest the suitable site for the Fidel Castro Ruz Memorial and factors to be included in determining its design (and cost). This despite my own proposed entry. I could understand the lack of response if proposals were limited to Fidel Castro Ruz aficianados, but my intention was that the competition would be open to all.
    Mass produced statues will I am sure be available but will probably have to be made of a non-destructible material – it wouldn’t do to have them being smashed as a form of demonstration.

  • Vahe Demirjian

    If any Cubans in Miami are disappointed that Fidel Castro is defying predictions of his death year after year because they know that Fidel had innocents executed by firing squads, maybe Fidel is taking magic pills in order to achieve immortality (just as Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi unsuccessfully attempted to make himself immortal by taking mercury pills).
    No one should be surprised if Raul Castro dies before Fidel does not just because of his advanced age, but also the fact that he was a communist long before Fidel admitted being a communist in December 1961.

    • Carlyle MacDuff

      And it was Raul who personally supervised the execution of 79 people without trial in one day at Santiago de Cuba. When asked about it later he responded that those executed had nothing to complain about as a Priest was provided. Batista was comparitively soft – if he had not been so, then both Fidel and Raul would have been executed following the July 26 raid on the Moncado Barracks. Fidel had the advantage of a trial where he delivered his later written defence of: “History will absolve me.” no word about whether Fidel’s pills are hexagonal and blue!