- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 20, 2002

LOS ANGELES Fidel Castro's luxurious lifestyle has been revealed in home videotapes smuggled out of Cuba by a former girlfriend of one of his sons.
The videos, which show the communist leader preparing for a sumptuous banquet and lounging on leather sofas in his villa in Havana, give the first peek into the residence that most Cubans have never seen.
State media are banned from reporting on his family or homes in the family compound because of Mr. Castro's fear of assassination.
Only his eldest son, Fidel Jr., has appeared at his side and has a government job. It is not even known how many children the leader has, though it is believed there are seven, including two with his mistresses.
The tapes, segments of which were broadcast for the first time on the California Spanish-language channel Univision on Monday night, were taken from the island by Dashiell Torralba, who had a two-year relationship with Mr. Castro's son, Antonio, an orthopedic surgeon.
The 27-year-old woman, who is now in hiding in an undisclosed Latin American country, told the channel she stole the videos as revenge on the 76-year-old dictator's wife, Dalia.
Miss Torralba said that Mrs. Castro broke up the two-year romance because she is the niece of Diocles Torralba, a former transport minister imprisoned in 1998 on corruption charges.
The tapes last a total of 40 minutes and are believed to have been mainly shot by Mr. Castro's adult children. The series, titled "The Secret Life of Fidel Castro," depicts his main residential compound, Punto Cero, or Point Zero, in western Havana.
Monday's episode showed Mr. Castro dressed casually before a banquet, inspecting the elaborate dinnerware on the dinner table, his grandchildren playing with relatives and Antonio zooming along the patio on an electric scooter.
It pictures the spacious compound and carefully landscaped garden and reveals that many of the family are wearing designer clothes. The house is decorated with wooden chests and Cuban handicrafts. A large-screen television monitors foreign news channels.
Sergio Gatria, of the Cuban Information Center, an anti-Castro organization of exiles, said the tapes confirmed that the Cuban dictator lived the life of a millionaire despite the poverty of many of the island's citizens.
The Castro regime has not commented on the tapes but Univision is convinced of their authenticity.
"It can't be a fake," said a spokesman for the Los Angeles-based channel. "There are too many recognizable people."


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