Ramón Castro, Brother to Cuban Revolutionaries, Dies at 91

February 25, 2016

Ramón Castro, a Cuban rancher and the elder brother of Fidel and Raúl Castro, died on Tuesday in Havana. He was 91.

His death was announced in a brief report by the Communist Party’s official newspaper, Granma.

Mr. Castro did not join his brothers in the guerrilla movement that preceded the 1959 revolution that overthrew the government of President Fulgencio Batista, according to news reports at the time. But the Granma report said that he was a prisoner of the Batista government in 1953, the same year that Fidel and Raúl attacked an army barracks in Santiago. The attack failed, and both Fidel and Raúl were imprisoned.

Ramón aided his brothers’ efforts as their revolution progressed, Granma said.

Ramón Castro Ruz was born on Oct. 14, 1924, in Birán, a rural district in Oriente Province. He was the eldest son of Angel Castro, a planter who had been born in Spain, and his second wife, Lina Ruz. Like his brothers, Ramón was educated in Roman Catholic schools, but unlike them, he remained in Birán while they continued their studies in Havana.

Not long after Fidel Castro defeated Batista’s armed forces and seized control of the country on New Year’s Day in 1959, a report in The New York Times hinted at a split in the family. The government appropriated land from Ramón Castro’s 21,650-acre farm within a year of his brother’s rise to power.

But Ramón Castro was a founder of the country’s Communist Party and served in the National Assembly, according to The Associated Press. He also worked as an agricultural official.

In an interview with The Washington Post in 1977, he spoke about the different path he took from his much more famous brother.

“Fidel studies at the university,” he said. “He became a lawyer. I didn’t study. I lived on the farm.”

Of his brother he said, “I prefer to speak of him as my leader rather than my brother.”

The article’s writer, Sally Quinn, described Mr. Castro in glowing terms.

“Physically, he is stunningly like his brother Fidel, an enormous, heavyset, gruff bear of a man, with a scraggly graying beard, a red face, a blustery manner, a ready teasing smile and bright dancing eyes,” she wrote.

Mr. Castro’s survivors include his brothers, Fidel, who stepped down as Cuba’s president in 2008, and Raúl, the current president, as well as at least two sons, Ramón and Angel, The A.P. said.