Juanita Castro expressed sorrow Saturday over the death of her brother Fidel, but said she was not planning to travel to Cuba to attend his funeral.
She said she remained committed to the Cuban exile community and opposed to the dictatorship her late brother imposed on the island when he seized power in 1959.
Exiled in Miami since 1964, Juanita, 83, said in a statement that she was upset by the news early Saturday. At the same time, she hoped that his death at age 90 is a turning point in which all Cubans find common ground.
“In light of the bad rumors that said I was going to go to Cuba for the funeral, I want to clarify that I have never returned to the island, nor do I have plans to do so,” Juanita Castro said in the statement. “I have fought alongside exiles, arm and arm, during their most active and intense stages of struggle in past decades, and I respect the feelings of all.”
Her communication offered a rare glimpse into the most intimate sentiments of a Castro family member.
“I do not rejoice over the death of any human being, much less when that person is someone with my blood and surnames,” Juanita Castro said. “As a sister of Fidel, I am experiencing the loss of a human being who shared my blood, as happened with the deaths of my siblings Ramón and Angelita.”
Ramón Castro Ruz died on Feb. 23 at age 91. Angela Castro Ruz died in 2012 at 88.
“I’ve been in exile in Miami for 51 years, like all the Cubans who left to find a space to fight for the freedom of their country,” Juanita Castro said. “I have never changed my position even though I had to pay a high price for the pain and isolation.”
She said she lost family support in Cuba, then faced rejection among some exiles who never accepted her because she was Fidel’s sister.
“For decades, I confronted the system in Cuba and also those in exile who unfairly did not forgive that my surnames were Castro Ruz and who attacked me ruthlessly,” she said.
She asked for understanding for her pain and expressed hope that her brother’s death brings about an understanding among all Cubans.
“I hope that we can find, not a way toward confrontation and hatred, but toward one that finally binds all Cubans.”