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Subject: Ral Chibas, ally of Fidel Castro

died in August
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Date Posted: September 20, 2002 2:23:40 EDT

Ral Chibas, a former close associate of Fidel Castro who defected to Florida in an outboard motorboat in 1960 in order, he said, to "make it known to the Cuban people that I did not like what their government is doing," died on Aug. 25 in a Miami hospital. He was 86 and lived in Miami.

He was a Cuban Army major when he defected 19 months after Castro took power in 1959, and three years after he joined Castro and another Castro supporter, the economist Felipe Pazos, in co-signing an important revolutionary manifesto.

The future defector at one time directed a military academy and was an ardent opponent of Cuba's ruling dictator, Fulgencio Batista, in 1957, when he signed the manifesto, which was mostly written by Castro.

It urged Cubans to create an anti-Batista front to end "the regime of force" and said the rebel movement was doing battle "for the fine ideal of a Cuba free, democratic and just."

Mr. Chibas was with the Castro troops in eastern Cuba in the summer of 1957. He was also treasurer of the Castro revolt, railroad commissioner in Castro's government and a judge at trials at Castro's request.

But soon after defecting, along with his wife, he said in an interview that Castro had betrayed the original principles of his revolution.

"Castro accuses anyone opposed to him of being a counterrevolutionist," Mr. Chibas said, but "the people in Cuba who believe in democracy are the real revolutionists."

He said that numerous technicians from Soviet-bloc nations were in Cuba and "free to move where they want and do what they like," and that "the Red indoctrination is everywhere."

After coming to the United States, he became an outspoken but unsuccessful advocate of ousting Castro from power. In 1960 he was one of a group of former top Castro aides who made public in New York City a 3,500-word manifesto calling for his overthrow.

Mr. Chibas's brother Eduardo, a Cuban politician who founded the Ortodoxo party, denounced corrupt government officials and has been called the idol of Castro's youth.

Born on April 25, 1916, in Santiago de Cuba, Ral Chibas grew up in Havana and studied at the University of Havana.

After defecting, he lived for two decades in the United States, where his work included teaching Spanish at a school on Long Island. Then he spent a decade in Caracas, where two of his children lived. He came to Miami in 1991.

He is survived by his wife, Maria Luisa Bonafonte de Chibas; three daughters, Gloria Chibas of Miami, Marissa Chibas of Los Angeles and Diana Chibas of Pembroke Pines, Fla.; and a son, Eduardo Chibas, of Caracas.

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