Oldest Castro Brother Dies

Ramon stayed on the farm while Fidel, Raul launched revolution
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 24, 2016 12:13 AM CST
Oldest Castro Brother Dies
Ramon Castro during a 2001 rally in Havana, Cuba.    (JOSE GOITIA)

Ramon Castro, a lifelong rancher and farmer who bore a strong physical resemblance to younger brother Fidel Castro, has died, Cuban state media announced Tuesday. He was 91. Widely known by his nickname "Mongo," the white-bearded Ramon Castro preferred tending crops and livestock to the revolutionary political life embraced by his younger siblings Fidel and Raul, who replaced Fidel as Cuba's president in February 2008, the AP reports. Two years older than Fidel, Ramon was long used to getting double-takes from people who insisted he looked just like his famous brother. At times, Ramon was said to reply that because he was older, Fidel actually looked like him. The three brothers were the children of Angel Castro, a Spanish-born rancher, and his second wife, Lina Ruz.

When Fidel and Raul headed off to Havana for studies, and then the business of launching a revolution against dictator Fulgencio Batista, Ramon was content to remain in the village of Biran in eastern Cuba, where he helped his father with the family business. After the 1959 revolution, Ramon often worked as a consultant for the government ministries of agriculture and sugar. Although Fidel quit smoking cigars in 1986, Ramon maintained the habit that he picked up from his father when he was just 12. Ramon liked to boast about his family's longevity: Their father lived until age 82, and there reportedly was at least one aunt who lived past 100. "It seems that we have a good genetic mix," he once said. (President Obama is planning to visit Cuba in March.)

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