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Castro video set to air on Univision

Tape, smuggled out of Cuba, will be seen in New York and Miami. There are no plans to broadcast it locally.

November 12, 2002|Dana Calvo | Times Staff Writer

A home video smuggled out of Cuba that evidently depicts secretive Cuban leader Fidel Castro in his "pajamas and slippers" was scheduled to air Monday night on the New York and Miami affiliates of Univision, the largest Spanish-language television network in the country. There are no plans to air the program locally.

"You see a good part of the house in which he lives. He seems a little decrepit," said reporter Mario Vallejo, the former Havana television reporter who arrived in Miami in 1997 and now works for Univision's Noticias 23/WLTV there. "He knows his children are making a video. He is simply eating a grapefruit."

Vallejo's video, if proved to be authentic, may be the first public look at Castro's home, its layout and security. Castro has long been rumored to sleep in a different bed each night, but Vallejo, in an interview in Spanish from Miami with The Times on Monday afternoon, said the 76-year-old revolutionary now lives permanently in the home called Punto Cero.

According to Vallejo, the video was smuggled off the Caribbean island by Dashiell Torralba, an ex-girlfriend of one of Castro's grown sons, Dr. Antonio Castro Soto del Valle. Vallejo said he has shown it to architecture professors at Florida International University to prove its veracity, but that could not be immediately confirmed.

The special, titled "The Secret Life of Castro," contains about six minutes of new footage each night, interspersed by interviews with Torralba and Castro's sister Juanita and daughter Alina Fernandez Revuelta. Fernandez, who has lived in Spain and the United States over the last few years, denounced her father in a 1998 autobiography, "Castro's Daughter: An Exile's Memoir of Cuba."

A network spokeswoman for Univision did not have any comment, but at least one news director with the company confirmed it will be shown over the course of 10 nights on Univision affiliates in New York and Miami, the U.S. cities with the largest Cuban exile populations. The 10-part series airs this week, at 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. and will continue Tuesday through Friday and Nov. 18-22. "It can't be a fake," Vallejo said. "There are too many people in it."

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