Sleeping With the Communist: An ABC Journalist’s Affair With Castro

Some journalists fawned and flattered over communist thug Fidel Castro. But then-ABC reporter Lisa Howard went the extra mile. In Politico Magazine, Friday, Peter Kornbluh recounts Howard’s previously undisclosed affair. The headline screamed, “‘My Dearest Fidel’: An ABC Journalist’s Secret Liaison With Fidel Castro.” 

Kornbluh recounted how Castro initially seduced the journalist: 

Castro slipped his arms around the American journalist, and the two lay on the bed, where, as Howard recalled in her diary, Castro “kissed and caressed me … expertly with restrained passion.”

“He talked on about wanting to have me,” Howard wrote, but “would not undress or go all the way.” “We like each other very much,” Castro told her, admitting he was having trouble finding the words to express his reluctance. “You have done much for us, you have written a lot, spoken a lot about us. But if we go to bed then it will be complicated and our relationship will be destroyed.”

He told her he would see her again—“and that it would come naturally.” Just before the sun rose over Havana, Castro tucked Howard in, turned out the lights and left.

In another trip, the journalist contrasted Castro’s brutality with, well, just how sexy he was: 

Over the next two weeks, Howard and her crew traipsed around Cuba with the energetic Castro, filming him playing baseball, visiting a cattle farm and interacting with peasants. As much as Howard believed Castro was a dictator, the overwhelming public adoration he generated impressed her. “They mob him, they scream ‘Fidel, Fidel,’ children kiss him, mothers touch him,” she wrote. “They are awed, thrilled … ecstatic, but mostly passionate. There is no doubt in my mind that the emotion Fidel inspires in all women is sheer undiluted sexual desire. He is the most physical animal man I have ever known.” The attraction between them was undeniable. “I sat and stood beside him for five hours and I nearly went out of my mind,” she recounted.

Eventually, Howard and Castro had sex: 

Castro turned the conversation to their complicated relationship. Nights earlier, Castro had confided that he used to sleep with many women, but not anymore—“that now that he is the leader all the women want to go to bed with him, but he thought it wasn’t him they wanted but to sleep with the leader. This seemed to trouble him,” Howard recounted. As Castro explained why he was reluctant to sleep with her, he asked Howard: “What do you want, Lisa? Do you want my body?”

Tonight, he was still conflicted. “He said he wanted me very much but the conditions had to be right and we had to be away somewhere where we could forget everything,” Howard wrote. Nevertheless, “we did get to bed and he made love to me quite expertly and it was, of course, thrilling and ecstatic—as much as anything I have ever experienced.”

For a history of journalists loving Castro — though maybe not quite as much as Ms. Howard did — see this Media Research Center report. 

Barbara Walters once described Castro as the “most charismatic person I have ever met.” 

The veteran journalist is clearly fascinated by Castro. In the December 23, 2013 People, she gushed, “I spent 10 days with him, traveled through the mountains and held his gun in my lap...People thought we had a romance, but we never did.”   

In a 2002 interview, Walters offered this groan-inducing line: “For Castro, freedom starts with education. And if literacy alone were the yardstick, Cuba would rank as one of the freest nations on Earth. The literacy rate is 96 percent.” 


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