Naty and Fidel

A Revolutionary Love Affair
Updated: Thursday, March 5th, 2015
    Naty Revuelta died Friday, February 27th, at age 89 in Havana. The love of her long life was Fidel Castro. Born on December 6th, 1925, Naty was one year older than the now 88-year-old Fidel. Naty's mom, who had divorced when Naty was a baby, worked for the U.S.-owned Havana Electric Company. A nationalist, the teenage Naty resented the fact that Cuba was "a pawn and a piggy-bank" for the United States. By the time she exited her teens, Naty was considered by many the most beautiful woman on the island. Fidel Castro, the young lawyer, saw her for the first time in 1951 at a rally in Havana honoring Cuban rebels killed in the previous century by Spanish soldiers. Naty was the most beautiful thing Fidel had ever seen. Like many young men in Havana, Fidel's lust for Naty was insatiable. But at age 22 she had married a rich heart doctor named Orlando Fernandez, 20 years her senior. She had a daughter, Nina, with Dr. Fernandez. Fidel had married Mirta Diaz-Balart in 1948 and they quickly had a son they called Fidelito. But by 1953, while married to others, Naty and Fidel shared a common passion -- the defeat of the vile U.S.-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista. Fidel began planning his revolution in early 1953 in Naty's home. She emptied her personal bank account, $6,000, and sold her diamonds and jewels to become the first major supporter of Fidel's nascent revolutionary ideas. It was in Naty's home that Fidel, Haydee Santamaria, Melba Hernandez and other young rebels planned the ill-fated attack on Batista's Moncada Army Barracks on the edge of Santiago de Cuba on the island's southeastern tip. Many of the 120 rebels were shot to pieces in that attack on July 26-1953 and the rest were soon captured -- including Fidel, Haydee, and Melba. Most of the captured rebels were tortured and murdered but Fidel and the two females were imprisoned at the behest of Batista's prime supporter, the United States. The disastrous Moncada attack had made Fidel the hero for the majority peasants who were being unmercifully maligned and, if they even meekly resisted, they were routinely butchered by Batista's forces, especially the infamous Masferrer Tigers. In prison Fidel sent a litany of now-famous love letters to Naty. One ended up being sent to Mirta, leading to her divorce from Fidel. In May of 1955, to sate the rumblings of the peasants, the U. S. prevailed upon Batista to free Fidel, Haydee, and Melba. Batista complied because he wanted the opportunity to murder the closely monitored Fidel away from the prying eyes of the peasants and New York Times reporter Herbert L. Mathews. Tailed by hit-men, female admirers Celia Sanchez, whom Fidel had never seen, and Naty, whom he had seen, provided a sequence of safe houses for Fidel before he could escape to the U. S. and Mexico where he wanted to recruit money and men before returning to Cuba to wage revolutionary war against Batista. One of the safe houses was owned by Naty and that's where she was impregnated by Fidel Castro. Their daughter was named Alina.
     Naty had one daughter, Nina, with Dr. Fernandez but they divorced when he learned how deeply her affection for Fidel really was. Her illicit daughter with Fidel, Alina {shown here with Naty}, was born in March of 1956, six months before Fidel left Mexico to join Celia Sanchez in the Sierra Maestra Mountains to wage the Revolutionary War against Batista, finally chasing the Batistianos off the island in the wee hours of January 1, 1959. But by age 12 Alina had grown rebellious and disliked Fidel, some say because of jealousy while others say because he refused to shower her and her friends with luxuries. By 1956 when he was in Mexico, Fidel had divorced Mirta and Naty had divorced Dr. Fernandez. Fidel sent word for Naty to join him in Mexico so they could get married. She refused but only because she believed "you will not live long because the Batistianos, the Mafia or the U. S. will soon kill you." Throughout the 1960s, the 1970s and into the 1980s, all three of his prime enemy factions -- as correctly named by Naty -- tried their best to kill him but, somehow, Fidel survived as Cuba's leader. In 1993 Alina defected to Madrid before ending up in Miami, Florida. 
      Alina carried with her to Spain the torrid love letters Naty had received from the imprisoned Fidel. They were indeed steamy. In one of the letters, Fidel wrote: "I am on fire. Write to me for I cannot live without your letters." Alina sold the private letters to a publisher, greatly embarrassing her father and direly breaking her mother's heart when they were published internationally. From 1993 till today, Alina has told the world that she defected from Cuba because of what her father "was doing" to Cuba. But Naty and others believed her teenage hatred of her father was because he refused to shower her or her friends with the luxuries she expected from the leader of a nation, a leader who was born rich but who happened not to shower himself or his other nine children with luxuries. In any case, like many other defectors, Alina has grown very rich in the U. S. as an anti-Castro zealot. In her anti-Castro books, her anti-Castro talk show in Miami, and especially via her lucrative anti-Castro speeches on college campuses across America, Alina -- like many other anti-Castro defectors in Miami, Florida -- is now a rich lady, living in homes far more luxurious than the modest one her father still lives in on the western edge of Havana.
This is a Dec. 7-1953 prison letter from Fidel to Naty.
This is a Feb. 9-1954 prison letter from Fidel to Naty.
     Alina Fernandez, the daughter of Naty and Fidel, had recently been making monthly trips to Havana from Miami as Naty's battle with emphysema worsened. Alina was there when Naty's body was cremated, after which Alina attended a very private memorial ceremony. Cuba readily allowed Alina's visits from Miami.
      While Alina made regular trips to Cuba to visit her ailing 89-year-old mother Naty, the chasm between Alina and her ailing 88-year-old father, Fidel, is far too wide for her to visit him. While he is abundantly aware that Alina, since 1993, has aligned herself with the anti-Castro faction in Miami, Fidel has never been known to say an unkind word about her. It is also known that he keeps this photo in his bedroom.
Castro's daughter: A Cuban-American tragedy.
   Throughout her adult life, the sultry, beautiful, blond, green-eyed Naty maintained her intense love for Fidel Castro and her eternal devotion to the revolution that she helped him forge.
      As she aged, Naty more and more became reclusive as she tried to avoid the unwanted limelight. But her relationship with Fidel has always fascinated both the public and troves of journalists. This photo of a smoking Naty illustrated a long article in US News & World Report magazine. In the article, Naty lavishly confirmed her undying love for Fidel. She was so effusive, in fact, that she was asked if there was any one thing she would criticize him for. She unhesitatingly replied, borrowing a famous line from a Jose Marti poem: "Not even with the petal of a rose." She loved Marti but she loved Fidel more: "Marti tried really hard but died on the battlefield; Fidel tried but lived".
       This is one of the last and one of the greatest photos ever taken of Naty Revuelta. The photographer was Sven Creutzmann. It shows Naty in a rocking chair in her Havana home. Over her right shoulder is a portrait of her when she was young. Over her left shoulder is a portrait of Fidel when he was young. The expression on her still beautiful face indicated that her memories will be forever young, as they should be.
{Naty: Dec. 6, 1925--Feb. 27, 2015}
     Naty Revuelta will always be remembered for two monumental things: Her enormous beauty and her enormous love for Fidel Castro. Georgia Anne Geyer, America's seminal Castro biographer, wrote in her book "Guerrilla Prince": "Naty was one of the most exquisitely beautiful women in Cuba and a woman with an abnormally sensuous appetite for revolution and adventure." Ted Szulc, in his excellent book "Fidel: A Critical Portrait", wrote: "Naty was one of an extraordinary contingent of beautiful and/or highly intelligent women who, in effect, dedicated their lives to Fidel and his cause." Above all that beauty and notoriety, Naty was a sweet and gentle lady. She had 89 remarkable years. Her cremated ashes will forever remain in Cuba and she will forever be a part of two legacies -- Fidel Castro's and the Cuban Revolution's. Her life was well-lived. May she rest in peace.
      The two most important women in Fidel Castro's life have been Celia Sanchez and Haydee Santamaria. They are shown here flanking Fidel shortly after the triumph of the Cuban Revolution. He has always maintained that Celia and Haydee "were more vital to the revolution than me or any others." Indeed, Celia and Haydee eclipsed Fidel and the others when it came to fighting, planning, and recruiting -- the prime elements that defeated Batista. Fidel was still a young, powerful, and vigorous leader of Cuba in 1980 when Celia died of cancer and Haydee committed suicide because of Celia's death. After first Celia died and then Haydee, Fidel endured the darkest and saddest days of his life, as revealed by intimates and his best biographer, Georgie Anne Geyer.
      Fidel Castro's recognition of Celia Sanchez and Haydee Santamaria as the two most important cogs in the Cuban Revolution is a fact recognized by the best Cuban historians, such as Pedro Alvarez Tabio and Marta Rojas. Haydee and Celia are shown above leading a guerrilla army in the Sierra Maestra while Fidel was off the island for almost two years right after he had spent almost two years in a Batista prison. The revolution was essentially over -- except for the fact that Celia and Haydee not only kept it supplied but led the front-line fighting that kept Batista's army from winning.
    When Fidel finally joined Celia and Haydee in the Sierra Maestra in December of 1956, the two female guerrilla fighters provided him his first rifle {above}. On his treacherous journey from Mexico to hook up with Celia, the old yacht Granma leaked badly and had to be ditched fifteen miles up the coast from the beach where Celia waited. A phone call from Mexico City had tipped off Batista about the yacht's departure. A Batista helicopter spotted the leaking Granma and Batista soldiers set up an ambush as the unarmed men swam to shore. All but 17 of the 82 men aboard the Granma were killed. Celia still got there in time to save Fidel and sixteen others, including future commanders Raul Castro, Che Guevara, and Camilo Cienfuegos. Fidel's rifle and ammunition belt were at the bottom of the ocean when Celia saved his life. That's why Celia and Haydee showed him the weapon in the above photo. 
     In addition to leading the guerrilla fighting against Batista's forces, Celia and Haydee were the revolution's top recruiters of rebels, weapons, and money. This photo shows Celia and Haydee in the heart of the Sierra Maestra showing Fidel a stash of $100 bills that Haydee had gotten in Miami after Celia sent her on the mission in which Haydee reluctantly went because she preferred staying in the Sierra "fighting the Batistianos." Her motivation was fueled by Batista's brutality to the peasants but greatly exacerbated when, in prison after the Moncada attack in July of 1953, Haydee was unmercifully tortured. One day she was tied to a chair and forced to watch as her fiancee was tortured to death and then his testicles were cut off and rubbed on her chest. So, it's understandable that Celia had to encourage her to leave the fighting to make the recruiting trip to Miami. But Celia knew that procuring rebel fighters, weapons, and supplies was the lifeblood of the revolution. By the time Fidel returned from Mexico, Celia was receiving shiploads and planeloads of weapons and supplies from friends she had cultivated atop the government of Venezuela. As the great historian Pedro Alvarez Tabio said, "If Batista had managed to kill Celia Sanchez anytime between 1953 and 1957, there would have been no viable Cuban Revolution, and no revolution for Fidel and Che to join." He could also have said the same thing about Haydee. The Cuban Revolution was a female-inspired and female-fueled revolution. The macho Fidel Castro has always admitted that even though he too fought bravely on the front-lines in the Sierra, at the Bay of Pigs, and elsewhere. The machismo-inspired Batistianos, who precipitously fled the revolution for a safe and lucrative sanctuary on U. S. soil, have always denied that. I, uh...wonder why? 
      This photo montage was vital to Celia Sanchez and the Cuban Revolution. The man is Admiral Wolfgang Larrazabal. He was a top Admiral and politician in Venezuela and in 1955 he proclaimed, "The doctor's daughter in Cuba is going to make history if she has a little help." The doctor's daughter was Celia Sanchez. Larrazabal helped her, both before and after he overthrew Venezuelan dictator Marcos Perez on January 23rd, 1958. Celia famously kept a million or so dollars in a closely guarded steel box and used it to purchase weapons and supplies. But Larrazabal, a respected family man, told her to "keep your funds for other needs, my love." He provided her, free of charge, valuable weapons and supplies at pre-arranged coastal drop-off points. 
      Keen Cuban historians know the significance of this photo. It was taken in Caracas in February of 1959, just weeks after the triumph of the Cuban Revolution. It shows Fidel Castro chatting with Venezuelan Admiral Wolfgang Larrazabal. Celia insisted, at that early date, flying to Venezuela so Fidel could personally thank Wolfgang. Cuban security had advised Celia not to go because Rafael Trujillo, the ruthless U.S-backed dictator of the Dominican Republic, had his warplanes patrolling for any Cuban aircraft or boats. But Celia's plane circled wide around the Dominican Republic and her risk paid off although, at the airport before the return flight, Celia's personal bodyguard was killed when he was struck by a propeller on a foggy night. But Fidel did get to thank Wolfgang and President Romulo Betancourt, who was also Celia's dear friend and is still known as The Father of Venezuela's Democracy. Some intimates of Celia maintained that Wolfgang was madly in love with Celia and at several meetings in the early 1950s on an island off the Cuban coast she reportedly reciprocated his love. But Tabio, Rojas, Fidel and others believe that the focused, pragmatic, and business-like Celia loved Wolfgang only because of the huge role he played in helping her achieve her life's primary goal -- beating Fulgencio Batista!!
     Fidel Castro is now 88-years-old and unwell. But he is still Fidel Castro. He has always been an extremely private man, especially where the women in his life are concerned. But the five women, apart from his mother Lina, that he most loved and/or admired are his first wife Mirta Diaz-Balart, his revolutionary soul-mates Celia Sanchez and Haydee Santamaria, his lover Naty Revuelta, and his current wife Dalia Soto del Valle. It was on March 1st that Fidel was told that Naty had died. Only his closest intimates -- Dalia and his eight loyal sons -- would know for sure, but it is believed that Naty Revuelta's death is hurting him more than anything that has transpired in his long and eventful life since Celia and Haydee both died in 1980.
Fidel Castro married Mirta Diaz-Balart in 1948.
Fidel and Mirta had a baby boy, Fidelito, in 1949.
     This is an updated photo of Mirta and Fidelito, an interesting image to ponder. History records that the love letter Fidel wrote to Naty from prison that ended up being received by Mirta helped expedite Mirta's divorce from Fidel, Fidelito's father. Fidel later gained full custody of Fidelito, who is now a scientist and a professor. Mirta to this day maintains a home in Havana and remains motherly and wifely found of Fidelito and Fidel. Now that's interesting. Mirta's brother was the late Rafael Diaz-Balart. He was a key Minister in the Batista dictatorship and then, after the revolution, a fiercely anti-Castro billionaire in Miami. Rafael had four fiercely anti-Castro sons -- Lincoln, Mario, Jose, and Rafael Jr. With great head-starts in Miami, Lincoln and Mario got elected to the U. S. Congress. Jose today -- with his own ubiquitous anchoring programs on both Telemundo and MSNBC/NBC, is America's most anti-Castro news anchor. And Rafael Jr. is one of America's wealthiest bankers. Yet, Mirta -- the brother of Rafael Diaz-Balart and the aunt of his four powerful anti-Castro sons -- is today on close terms with Fidel Castro despite her close relatives in Miami...just as Naty Revuelta all her adult life loved Fidel Castro while her daughter with Fidel, Alina, has grown rich as an anti-Castro zealot in Miami. Trust me, I didn't make that up. I just use it as a reminder that in the U. S., where anti-Castro zealots control the Cuban narrative, Alina and the Diaz-Balarts don't want you to know this fact: All of the primary women in Fidel Castro's life presumably knew him well for many decades -- Mirta, Naty, Celia, Haydee, Melba, Vilma Espin, Tete Puebla, and Marta Rojas in particular. And all loved him all their adult lives. Interesting, huh? But in the U. S. since 1959, as Alina and the Diaz-Balarts can attest, you don't get rich by being pro-Castro but you surely can get rich by proclaiming your hatred of him. Mirta's four nephews from Miami hate him; Naty's and Fidel's daughter in Miami hates him. And they're all very rich! Mirta, Naty, Celia, Haydee, Melba, Vilma, Tete, and Marta...not very rich! Moral: It pays to hate Fidel, especially where anti-Castro/pro-Batista propaganda rules supreme, which is the case in the U. S. since January 1, 1959.  
       On Saturday -- February 28th, the day he learned of Naty's death -- Fidel's son Alex took this photo in the living room of Fidel's Havana home. The lady in the red dress is his wife Dalia, whom he married in 1980 at the request of Celia Sanchez, who was dying of cancer. The five Cuban men huddled around Fidel on February 28th, 2015, are "the Cuban 5." Two of the men had been released after serving almost 15 years in U. S. prisons and the other three were released on Dec. 17th, 2014 in an exchange that freed American Alan Gross from a Cuban prison. The exchange paved the way for Presidents Barack Obama and Raul Castro to announce plans to normalize relations between the two nations. On March the 1st, his first full day of mourning Naty's death, Fidel wrote a long tribute to the Cuba 5 that was published in the Cuban media and then released worldwide by news agencies. He began that article with these words: "Yesterday, I immediately wanted to converse with the Five Heroes. For five hours, that's what we did." He signed off on the long article with these words: "Fidel Castro Ruz; March 1, 2015; 10:12 P. M." When he finished writing that article at 10:12 Sunday night, he was undoubtedly consumed with his everlasting memories of Naty Revuelta. And surely, they were very private thoughts, as well they should be.
      Remember the earlier photo of Fidelito, the baby Fidel Castro and his wife Mirta had in 1949. Well, this Reuters photo taken a few days ago shows U. S. entertainer Paris Hilton taking a selfie with Fidelito. Time flies and even the sons of Fidel age.
      Paris Hilton posted this photo on her Instagram page with the caption "Cuba baby!" She is standing in front of the Hilton Hotel in Havana. She pointed out that her great-granddad, Conrad Hilton, opened the famed hotel in March of 1958 in the last year of the Batista dictatorship. The Habana Hilton has 25 stories and 515 rooms.
      And speaking of the Hilton Hotel in Havana, this photo was taken in January of 1959. It shows Fidel Castro on a balcony of the Hilton Hotel overlooking Havana. Presumably, he liked the expansive view. After all, the Batistianos had just left. 

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