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Castro’s Sister Says He Is Still Family

August 4, 2006

MIAMI (AP) _ While most people from the Cuban exiled community rejoice at the news of Fidel Castro’s failing health, one woman will not be celebrating.

Juanita Castro hasn’t spoken to her brother since she fled Cuba more than 40 years ago. She’s been a vocal critic of his regime ever since.

But despite their political differences, the 73-year-old says she still cares for her brother.

``In the same way that people are demonstrating and celebrating, I’m showing sadness. I respect the position of everyone who feels happy about his health problems, but they have to respect me also,″ Juanita Castro told The Associated Press on Thursday.

Earlier this week, Fidel Castro temporarily ceded power to their brother Raul Castro.

``To confront my own family, this for me has been very painful. In the same way it is very painful to see this man in very grave condition,″ Juanita Castro said.

She said her brother was released from intensive care Wednesday, adding that she had no additional information about his health.

``He’s very sick, that’s it,″ she said.

Juanita Castro, who owns a small pharmacy in Miami, has supported opposition to her brother’s dictatorship.

``There’s never been a reconciliation and I’ve always been very clear and spoken out publicly against the regime for years,″ she said. ``For many years I have spoken out in favor of the implementation of a real democracy in Cuba.″

She said she hoped the Cuban community would understand her reluctance to celebrate her brother’s illness.

``It’s my family. It’s my brothers. It doesn’t matter,″ she said. ``We are separated for political reasons, ideological reasons, but that’s it.″

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