Monday, November 1, 2010


Fidel Castro maintains a semi-secret bank account, called the Commander-in-Chief’s discretionary fund from which he makes gratuitous disbursements to those individuals and governments whose favours he curries.

At least so says Lieutenant Colonel Juan Reinaldo Sanchez, Fidel’s ex-bodyguard.

These disbursements may be for, say, the construction of a school, or a hospital – or for any other cause that may find favour with Castro.

Obviously, the sums involved are considerable. It would appear that although Fidel is not personally involved in the running of the account he tracks its activities in great detail and makes sure that every time a substantial payment is made from it the sum is immediately replaced.

Sanchez claims that, among others, ex-Interior Minister Jose Abrantes frequently visited Fidel’s house in the complex known as Punto Cero, with large sums of cash, ostensibly destined to replace moneys disbursed from Fidel’s special account.

Abrantes was tried and found guilty of negligence and misuse of Government funds the same year Ochoa was executed (August 1989). He was sentenced to 20 years and died in prison of a heart attack in January 1991. He was in his fifties.

It was under such murky circumstances that the Ochoa trial had taken place. I tried to reflect these convoluted counter-currents in my latest novel, HAVANA HARVEST.