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Castro Leads Emotional Visit to Father’s Hometown

July 28, 1992

LANCARA, Spain (AP) _ Fidel Castro on Tuesday visited the small village his father left as a young man to fight in the 1898 Spanish-American war.

The man who has become a symbol of Cuban independence - and defiance - was named an ″adopted son″ of Lancara, the birthplace of Angel Castro.

″My father felt a great love for this place, and during his whole life he wanted to return,″ the Cuban leader said, ″but he couldn’t.″

With Cuba facing growing economic chaos since the collapse of the Soviet Bloc and the his regime under increasing pressure to democratize, Castro found welcome relief at the simple stone house where his father was born.

He warmly embraced his cousins, Victoria and Estela Lopez Castro, his last remaining relatives in the northwestern Spanish region of Galicia.

″In our struggle, we carry ourselves like brave sons of Galicia,″ the 65- year-old Castro said in an emotional ceremony outside the town hall, six miles from his father’s birthplace.

Castro later attended a country picnic with 500 supporters and others in the town Armea de Arriba, where his cousin Victoria lives.

The menu included Galician octupus, deep-fried bell peppers and local white wine. Castro played dominoes with Galician regional President Manuel Fraga, and Castro fans mobbed the Cuban leader shouting ″Cuba yes, Yankees no.″

″He signed my flag,″ said one tearful young woman holding a red banner bearing the face of Castro’s long-time comrade, Ernesto ″Che″ Guevara.″

An estimated 5,000 people of Galician background live in Cuba. From 1900 to 1920, hundreds of thousands of Galicians left the rocky hills and valleys and fled to Latin America where their name - ″Gallegos″ - is synonymous with Spaniards.

Since arriving in Spain on Thursday, Castro has attended the Ibero-American Summit in Madrid, the opening of the Olympic Games in Barcelona and Expo ’92 in Seville. Castro was to return to Cuba on Wednesday.

Since the collapse of the Soviet bloc, Castro has been under increasing pressure to carry out democratic reforms in Cuba.

Fraga visited Cuba in September and presented Castro with a list of political prisoners whose release he sought. Eighteen of them were later freed, according to regional government officials.

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