Ramon Castro, a lifelong rancher and farmer who bore a strong physical resemblance to younger brother Fidel Castro, has died, Cuban state media announced Tuesday, Feb 23. He was 91, the Associated Press reports.
Widely known by his nickname “Mongo,” the white-bearded Ramon Castro preferred tending crops and livestock to the revolutionary political life embraced by his younger siblings Fidel and Raul, who replaced Fidel as Cuba’s president in February 2008.
Two years older than Fidel, Ramon was long used to getting double-takes from people who insisted he looked just like his famous brother. At times, Ramon was said to reply that because he was older, Fidel actually looked like him.
Ramon, Fidel and Raul were the second, third and fourth children of Angel Castro, a Spanish-born rancher, and his second wife, Lina Ruz. Angel Castro also had two other children from a previous marriage.
The three brothers attended Roman Catholic schools in eastern Cuba, where their teachers complained about their pranks and trouble making, prompting Angel to pull them out of classes for some time.
Once grown, Fidel and Raul headed off to Havana for studies, then the business of launching a revolution against dictator Fulgencio Batista, who seized power in a 1952 coup.
But Ramon Castro was content to remain in the village of Biran in eastern Cuba, where he helped his father with the family business.
Following the 1959 triumph of the Cuban revolution and Fidel’s subsequent rise to power, Ramon often worked as a consultant for the government ministries of agriculture and sugar. In the early 1960s, he oversaw sugar production in eastern Cuba, where he helped increase output.
Ramon founded several state companies, including ones that handled the transportation of sugar cane and the production of oranges. He also was involved in agricultural research.
Although he wielded little government power, Ramon nevertheless was a founding member of the Communist Party of Cuba and served as a deputy in the country’s parliament, the National Assembly.
Little was known about his private life except that he was born on Oct 14, 1924, had been married and had at least two sons, Ramon Omar Castro and Angel Castro.