Cuba

Ramón Castro, Cuban leaders' older brother, dies at age 91

In this March 26, 2008 file photo, Ramón Castro, left, the elder brother of Cuba's Fidel Castro, speaks with journalists as cattleman John Parke Wright IV, of Florida, listens during the 13th Boyeros Cattleman's Fair in Havana, Cuba. Castro, a lifelong rancher and farmer who bore a strong physical resemblance to his younger brother, Fidel, died Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2016, state media announced. He was 91.
In this March 26, 2008 file photo, Ramón Castro, left, the elder brother of Cuba's Fidel Castro, speaks with journalists as cattleman John Parke Wright IV, of Florida, listens during the 13th Boyeros Cattleman's Fair in Havana, Cuba. Castro, a lifelong rancher and farmer who bore a strong physical resemblance to his younger brother, Fidel, died Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2016, state media announced. He was 91. AP

Ramón Eusebio Castro, a rancher who unlike his more famous younger brothers Fidel and Raúl Castro never strayed far from his agricultural roots, died Tuesday morning in Havana at the age of 91, Cuban state media reported.

Imprisoned in 1953 during the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista, he collaborated with his brothers in the 26th of July Movement, which led to the 1959 triumph of the Cuban Revolution. Granma, the official paper of Cuba’s Communist Party, reported that he organized supply lines for revolutionaries on the eastern front.

While the insurgency raged, he helped his family care for their ranch. Throughout his life he seemed to prefer the countryside to the agitated political life of Havana. Often photographed wearing a straw cowboy hat and white guayabera, he bore a striking resemblance to his brother former Cuban leader Fidel Castro, who is two years younger. He was sometimes seen driving a tractor around Havana.

No cause of death was reported. Granma said he was cremated and his ashes will be sent to the village of Birán in eastern Cuba, where he was born on Oct. 14, 1924, the son of Angel Castro, a wealthy rancher, and his second wife, Lina Ruz.

Even though he preferred to till the soil to politics, he still served the revolution, working as a consultant for the sugar and agriculture ministries and also serving as a deputy in the National Assembly, Cuba’s parliament. Ramón founded several state companies, including ones that handled the transportation of sugar cane and orange production and was also involved in agricultural research.

For his efforts, the Cuban government named him a “Hero of Work.” More recently, Naples cattle rancher John Parke Wright IV spent considerable time with him as he worked to improve Cuba’s cattle-breeding stock and to boost the efficiency of small and medium-sized farms in Cuba.

Known by his nickname “Mongo,” he seemed to relish the notoriety of being the eldest brother of two Cuban leaders and met with high-profile visitors, including American film director Oliver Stone, who met with both Fidel and Ramon during a 2002 visit.

He was married to Aurora Castillo and had five children. In addition to Fidel and Raúl Castro, he is survived by three sisters, Juanita, who lives in South Florida, Emma and Agustina.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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