Ramón Castro Ruz

Ramón Eusebio Castro Ruz (14 October 1924 – 23 February 2016) was a Cuban revolutionary and activist. He was the eldest brother of Fidel and Raúl Castro and a key figure of the Cuban Revolution.

Ramón Castro Ruz
Personal details
Ramón Eusebio Castro Ruz

(1924-10-14)14 October 1924
Birán, Cuba
Died23 February 2016(2016-02-23) (aged 91)
Havana, Cuba
Spouse(s)Janice Castro
ParentsÁngel Castro y Argiz (father)
Lina Ruz (mother)
RelativesFidel Castro (brother)
Raúl Castro (brother)
Juanita Castro (sister)


Ramón, the eldest of the Castro brothers, the son of Ángel Castro, a Spanish-born rancher, and his second wife, Lina Ruz, grew up in the slums of Havana with his brothers.

"Physically, he is stunningly like his brother Fidel, an enormous, heavy-set, gruff bear of a man, with a scraggly beard, a red face, a blustery manner, a ready teasing smile and bright dancing eyes," wrote American journalist, Sally Quinn, who in 1977 was rare in being offered a unique opportunity to do an interview in Cuba. Habaneros and tourists alike would confuse Ramón for his brother Fidel, as they passed in the streets of Havana. He would declare "No, soy Mongo" using a childhood nickname that only his friends and family would know.[1]

Although not active in the armed rebellion like his brothers, Ramón Castro aided in the revolution as the quartermaster[2] for the troops of Fidel and Raúl, sending them weapons and supplies. He also established and maintained pipelines from the cities to the troops in the field. He also manufactured an alcohol-based fuel for Cuba during a gasoline shortage.[2] He later said he led a network of 1,200 men: "All of them were thieves. We stole things for the war."[2]

After the revolution, the 87.6 km2 (33.8 sq mi) family farm that employed 400 people and produced sugar cane, oranges, cattle and lumber, along with its core 26 buildings became legal property of the state. He was allowed to retain 4 km2 (1.5 sq mi).[3] He was occasionally at odds with the new government. In November 1959, after Fidel denounced the newspaper Prensa Libre for opposing the revolution, Ramón came to the newspaper's defense. The government's official newspaper then denounced Ramón in an editorial on its front page that said he had not joined the insurgents alongside his brothers in the 1950s because of his "lack of courage and the permanent desire to make money".[4] A year later he was attacked for his role in the Cuba Cane Growers Association, an organization that had been dissolved for its association with U.S. interests before the revolution and a lack of enthusiasm for the revolution after it succeeded.[5] Before that season's harvest concluded, he called for raising wage rates for 200,000 laborers on private sugar cane farms to match those paid on cooperative farms.[6]

He worked as a consultant to government ministries and founded the state-owned companies that managed the production of oranges and the transportation of sugarcane.[7] He was one of the founders of the Communist Party of Cuba in 1965 and served as a deputy in the National Assembly, the Cuban legislature.[8] He studied and implemented improved production techniques in sugarcane and dairy farming. In the 1990s, he helped facilitate the importation of cattle from Florida, which led to the creation of a new breed of cattle.[9] Of his brother's fame he said: "Fidel has one ambition. I have another. His thing is political. Mine is the street. I am free, and he's in a kind of a prison."[2] Unlike el presidente he continued to smoke cigars until the day he died.[10]

In 2007, when Fidel was recovering from surgery, Ramón told an interviewer that he "is doing very well, protected by the socialist saints.... All of us brothers are very resilient."[11]

He and his wife Janice had three children, Ramón Omar, Lena, and Ángel Castro. Castro died on 23 February 2016.[7] His death was announced in Granma, the official newspaper of the Cuban Communist Party.[12] His brother, Fidel died 9 months later on 25 November 2016.


  1. ^ Davison, Phil (24 February 2016). "Ramon Castro: Older brother of the former Cuban dictator, who chose cattle and sugar cane over revolutionary fervour". Retrieved 29 November 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d Braga, Michael (15 June 2004). "The other Castro brother". Saratoga Herald Tribune. Retrieved 25 February 2016.
  3. ^ Phillips, R. Hart (19 October 1959). "Cuba Takes Land of Ramon Castro" (PDF). New York Times. Retrieved 25 February 2016.
  4. ^ "Ramon Castro Assailed" (PDF). New York Times. 25 November 1959. Retrieved 25 February 2016.
  5. ^ Frankel, Max (20 December 1960). "A Castro Brother Periled by Purge" (PDF). New York Times. Retrieved 25 February 2016.
  6. ^ "Ramon Castro Acts to Aid Small Farm" (PDF). New York Times. 21 February 1961. Retrieved 25 February 2016.
  7. ^ a b Rodriguez, Andrea; Haven, Paul (24 February 2016). "Ramon Castro, Cuban Leader's Older Brother, Dies at Age 91". Washington Post. Associated Press. Archived from the original on 24 February 2016. Retrieved 24 February 2016.
  8. ^ "Ramón Castro, elder brother of Cuban leaders Fidel and Raúl, dies at 91". The Guardian. 23 February 2016. Retrieved 24 February 2016.
  9. ^ Whitefield, Mimi (24 February 2016). "Florida cattleman recalls Ramón Castro's role in Cuba agriculture". Miami Herald. Retrieved 26 February 2016.
  10. ^ Davison, Phil (24 February 2016). "Ramon Castro: Older brother of former Cuban dictator, who chose cattle and sugar cane over revolutionary fervour". The Independent. Retrieved 29 November 2016.
  11. ^ "Castro Is Protected 'By Socialist Saints'". New York Times. Associated Press. 10 February 2007. Retrieved 25 February 2016.
  12. ^ Rosenberg, Eli (24 February 2016). "Ramón Castro, Brother to Cuban Revolutionaries, Dies at 91". New York Times. Retrieved 24 February 2016.

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