* Juanita Castro says Brazilian friend recruited her
* Code named Donna, says helped foes of Fidel Castro flee
* She says Fidel "betrayed" Cuba revolution with communism
(Updates with Juanita Castro saying she accepted no payment
from the CIA for her collaboration)
By Pascal Fletcher
MIAMI, Oct 26 Using the code name Donna, the
younger sister of Fidel and Raul Castro worked undercover for
the CIA in Cuba in the early 1960s, helping opponents of their
communist rule escape execution and imprisonment, she said in
memoirs published in exile on Monday.
Revealing what the publishers called a closely guarded
secret kept hidden for four decades, Juanita Castro described
in the book how she was recruited by the U.S. Central
Intelligence Agency in Havana two years after the 1959
Revolution led by her brothers, which she initially supported.
There was no immediate reaction to her revelation from the
U.S. authorities or the Cuban government, which routinely
dismisses critics as mercenaries in the pay of Washington.
Juanita Castro, 76, broke publicly with the Cuban
government led by her brother Fidel Castro in 1964 after
leaving Cuba for Mexico. She went into exile in Miami and has
remained a firm critic of communist rule in Cuba.
In the memoirs entitled "Fidel and Raul, My Brothers, the
Secret History," told to Mexican journalist Maria Antonieta
Collins, she says she quickly became disenchanted with Fidel
Castro's rule over the Caribbean's largest island because he
increasingly persecuted opponents and turned to communism.
She says Fidel Castro "betrayed" her and other Cubans by
abandoning the nationalist democratic revolution he had
promised and imposing a one-party Marxist state on Cuba.
Juanita Castro wrote she was recruited to be a clandestine
CIA operative by her friend Virginia Leitao da Cunha, the wife
of the Brazilian ambassador to Cuba, who in 1958 sheltered her
and other revolutionary followers of Castro during the armed
struggle to topple dictator Fulgencio Batista.
She said that at a meeting with an American CIA officer
"Enrique" in a Mexico City hotel in 1961, she was given the
code name Donna and codebooks to use in Cuba with a short-wave
radio to receive instructions from her CIA handlers.
Former leader Fidel Castro, 83, who last year handed over
the presidency of Cuba to his younger brother Raul, 78, for
health reasons, has long considered the CIA his arch-enemy. He
says the U.S. spy agency was behind most of the 600 or so
assassination plots he claims were made against his life.
In her memoirs, Juanita Castro wrote she agreed to work for
the CIA under the noses of her brothers on the condition that
she was not asked to participate in any violent acts against
them or any other member of their government.
"Did I feel remorse about betraying Fidel by agreeing to
meet with his enemies? No, for one simple reason: I didn't
betray him. He betrayed me," she writes in the 432-page book
published in Spanish by Grupo Santillana.
"He betrayed the thousands of us who suffered and fought
for the revolution that he had offered, one that was generous
and just and would bring peace and democracy to Cuba, and
which, as he himself had promised, would be as 'Cuban as palm
trees,'" she said.
Juanita Castro said in her memoirs and in a TV interview
that she never accepted any money from the CIA for her
collaboration. "I never put any price on my desertion ... on my
activities against the communist dictatorship," she told the
Spanish language TV channel Univision-Noticias 23 on Monday.
She described in her book how, following CIA instructions
often secretly picked up at isolated roadside drop points in
Cuba, she helped people persecuted by Fidel Castro's secret
police to escape capture, imprisonment and possible execution.
Some were sheltered at the house where she lived with her
mother, Lina Ruz Gonzalez, who was also the mother of Fidel and
Raul Castro. Lina Ruz, who also helped some friends escape
persecution, died in 1963, Juanita Castro said.
She recalled her own shock when Fidel Castro, who had
denied publicly that he was a communist, declared on Dec. 2,
1961, that he was a Marxist-Leninist and that he would remain
one for the rest of his life.
"Fidel's radical change to communism was not out of
political conviction, but simply out of the need to hold power,
which is what has always been important to him," she wrote.
"I have no other explanation: He turned to the Soviet Union
to perpetuate himself in power."
The collapse in 1991 of the Soviet Union, Cuba's main ally
and economic benefactor for years, plunged the island into
economic crisis. But despite the economic problems, both Fidel
and Raul Castro have ruled out any shift to capitalism.
In response to a call for a "new beginning" in U.S.-Cuban
ties made by U.S. President Barack Obama, the Cuban leadership
has started talks with Washington on issues like migration and
postal service ties, but it demands that Obama completely end
the 47-year-old U.S. trade embargo against Cuba.
Obama says he wants to see Havana free jailed dissidents
and improve human rights.
Juanita Castro says she has not spoken to Fidel or Raul
Castro since she left Cuba in 1964.