‘I’m Tony Castro, as in the family Castro’: Selfie-obsessed grandson of
Communist revolutionary leader Fidel poses for ‘cheap thrills’ in
thoroughly capitalist modelling shoot
Teenage scion of Castro empire, 19, is aspiring model who likes highlife
Selfie-obsessed student ‘just wants to be a model and have a normal life’
His father Antonio earned reputation as a lothario with playboy past
Fidel Castro, 89, was revolutionary leader who is now desperately ill
By CLAUDIA JOSEPH FOR MAILONLINE
PUBLISHED: 13:10 GMT, 17 May 2016 | UPDATED: 17:15 GMT, 17 May 2016
His grandfather is one of the world’s most iconic revolutionary leaders,
whose charismatic, cigar-chomping pose has become an emblem of Cuban
Teenager Tony Castro, meanwhile, has a much more modern way with the
camera: he’s selfie-obsessed.
The 19-year-old grandson of Fidel is an aspiring model who could not be
more different from his socialist forebear.
In a country where the majority of the population cannot afford a bottle
of Chanel No 5., Tony was slated to appear on the catwalk for Karl
It was the highlight of Cuba’s social season: two months after Barack
Obama made a historic visit to Cuba – the first by a US president for
nearly 90 years – and the Rolling Stones played a free open air concert
on the outskirts Havana, Chanel supremo Karl Lagerfeld hosted a fashion
Supermodels Gisele Bundchen and Stella Tennant, actress Tilda Swinton
and actor Vin Diesel, who is in the capital filming Fast and Furious 8,
arrived in vintage American cars while models sporting brightly coloured
chiffon dresses and Che Guevara berets sauntered down the catwalk to the
sound of salsa music.
There were rumours before last week’s extravaganza that the 19-year-old
was going to model in the show but instead he sat in the front row.
Afterwards he said: ‘It is an honour for all Cubans for this big event
to take place here.’
His appearance at such a high-profile event proved catnip to the
bloggers on the island, where there are few mentions of Cuba’s first
family in the state-controlled newspapers.
Tony, like the rest of his family, is something of an enigma: few Cubans
know the names of the former dictator’s wife Dalia Soto del Valle, a
former schoolteacher, and their five sons Angel, Antonio, Alejandro,
Alexis and Alex and five sons – let alone those of his numerous
mistresses, illegitimate children and grandchildren.
So who is Tony Castro? And why was he at the fashion show?
The MailOnline has discovered that the 19-year-old student is a student
at Havana University and an aspiring model, loves baseball and Western
music and enjoys taking selfies.
He was in the audience during March’s baseball game between the Tampa
Bay Rays and the Cuban National Team, posting snaps on social media –
although he failed to get a selfie with President Obama.
His first – and so far only – fashion shoot was for photographer Brian
Canelles who posted the pictures on his Facebook page Art is Easy under
the hashtag #Cheap Thrills.
He and model Miguel Leyva, who is a respected fashion blogger on the
island, did the shoot in the Parque Fe Del Valle, near the university.
One fan posted: “This is talent!!!!! I love it!!!! #Respect4tony.
Canelles told the MailOnline: ‘It was his first shoot. It was a
beautiful hot day and we were in the park near the university where he
studies. He turned up with his friend Miguel – I had not met him before
– and he looked good so we decided to take some pictures.
‘I work for a magazine but this was a personal shoot, for fun. It was a
joke – something special for us. We did it really fast and then I put it
on the Internet. He was amazing – I explained what I wanted him to do
and he was very receptive. He was good to work with.
‘He even made a little joke about his family name. Migel introduced me
to him and I said to him: “I recognise that surname.” He told me: “I’m
Tony Castro as from the family of Castro,” so that’s how I introduced
him to the other models.
‘Everybody had fun. He is a really nice guy. He just wants to be a model
and have a normal life. We didn’t talk about his family – I didn’t want
to make him feel uncomfortable. We mainly talked about music. He loves
English music and we talked about the Top 40 in the UK.’
For most Britons, Tony’s aspirations are no different from other
teenagers. But Cuba is not Britain. And Tony is no ordinary teenager. He
descends from one of the world’s most controversial and secretive
rulers, who ruled Cuba with an iron fist for five decades, becoming
known as El Commandante.
There are few public images of his grandfather in his homeland: no
street names bear his name and no bank notes bear his image; even his
address is a mystery.
Instead, all Cuban souvenirs revolve around the 1959 revolution, when he
seized power, and the images of dead heroes, such as Che Guevara and
Camilo Cienfuegos, adorn everything from t-shirts to key chains.
Surprisingly Fidel Castro, 89, hailed from a wealthy family in Birán,
south east Cuba, where his father Angel owned a sugar plantation. One of
nine children, he was the family favourite and was privately educated.
But he became politically radicalised at university and, with his
brother Raúl, now Cuba’s president, led an unsuccessful uprising against
the unpopular regime of Fulgencio Batista in 1953.
After being imprisoned and released, he went into exile in Mexico before
returning to his homeland six years later and overthrowing the Batista
government. Styling himself as a revolutionary leader, in trademark cap
and military fatigues, he first became prime minister, being taking
over, in 1976, as president.
He retired from politics in 2008 – he is reportedly suffering from
cancer – and handed over the reigns to his brother Raúl, who has lifted
some of his more extreme restrictions, including use of the Internet.
But the country is still in the grip of communist power and most Cubans
barely lively above the breadline.
Cuba, however, is a country of contradictions and not all the Castro
family are communists. Fidel and Raúl’s sister Juanita fled the country
in 1964, announcing at a press conference: ‘I cannot any longer remain
indifferent to what is happening in my country. My brothers Fidel and
Raúl have made it an enormous prison surrounded by water. The people are
nailed to a cross of torment imposed by international communism.’
Thirty years later Fidel’s illegitimate daughter Alina, a 60-year-old
former model and public relations director of a Cuban fashion company,
also left the country on a false Spanish passport and a wig.
Now living in exile in Miami, she has become one of her father’s
harshest critics, writing a renowned autobiography Castro’s Daughter: An
Exile’s Memoir of Cuba.
Even the socialist icon is known to have no difficult marrying his
socialist principles with capitalist luxuries. Forbes magazine once
listed him amongst the world’s richest ‘kings, queens and dictators’ –
although he instead his salary was barely £20 a month – and his former
bodyguard Juan Reinaldo Sanchez published a tell-all memoir two years
ago exposing his vast wealth.
He claimed that Castro owned 20 luxury homes, a Caribbean island with a
lagoon filled with turtles and dolphins and an 88ft yacht, and
controlled the proceeds from a small gold mine. ‘He always claims he
lives frugally, he wrote. ‘Lies — he lives in a luxury that most Cubans
can’t even imagine.’
Certainly Fidel’s son Antonio – Tony’s father – has earned a reputation
as a playboy – eyebrows have been raised in the communist country over
his jet-setting lifestyle.
After leaving school, his father gave him two choices – to go to medical
school or join the military. Choosing medicine, he went onto become one
of Cuba’s top orthopedic surgeons, becoming famous in his homeland as
physician for the national team. Before games he was often spotted
signing autographs for fans.
However his marriage to Tony’s mother Lissete Ulloa barely last two
years and, although he is now dating Patricia Núñez, the producer of an
educational television channel in Havana, he has a reputation as a lothario.
In 2002 a Florida TV channel broadcast a series entitled The Secret Life
of Fidel Castro, which was based on a home video, stolen by one of his
spurned girlfriends Dashiell Torralba.
And seven years later, he was the target of an Internet scam by Miami
blogger Luis Dominguez, who wanted to ‘shatter the myth of an
impenetrable’ security around the Castro family.
Dominguez created a virtual woman – a 27-year-old Colombian sports
writer called Claudia Valenzia – who managed to conduct an eight-month
cyber romance with Antonio on his Apple computer and BlackBerry,
luxuries only afforded to the ruling elite.
During the chats, which lasted eight months, Antonio talked about
weekends on Varadero beach, and revealed a penchant for designer labels,
including Lacoste shirts and belt buckles.
He sent bare-chested photos of himself from Moscow and the Beijing
Olympics. ‘Guess where I am, and I will make love to you without
stopping,’ he wrote in one missive.
Then, last year, he was snapped on a $50,000-a-day 160-ft luxury yacht
in the Aegean Sea, while sailing from the Greek island of Mykonos to the
Turkish holiday resort Bodrum.
He rented five suites for himself and his group of friends and
bodyguards at a 5* hotel, making waves when one of his bodyguards hit a
photographer, who was trying to snap him leaving a restaurant.
Antonio is also a keen golfer (surprising as his father denounced the
sport as ‘bourgeois’, demolishing all the golf courses and country clubs
in Cuba to make way for affordable housing) and enjoys fishing (he and
his two fellow anglers scooped the 2014 Ernest Hemingway international
But it is baseball for which he has become known: he is vice-president
of the Cuban Federation of baseball and the World Confederation of
baseball and softball – a passion he has inherited from his father, who
was a gifted player – in 1944 he was selected as the best student
athlete in the country.
‘Baseball is not just a sport, it’s a culture,’ he said in a recent
interview, echoing his father’s 1959 speech. ‘When a boy is born, his
father gives him a bat and ball. Through baseball, we teach our children
everything about life.’
It is a hobby which his son Tonio shares. But whether he will follow in
the footsteps of his playboy father or model aunt, is yet to be seen.
Source: Fidel Castro’s grandson Tony poses for ‘cheap thrills’ in
capitalist photoshoot | Daily Mail Online –