November 25, 1997

Castro's sister pays respect to exile leader

MIAMI (Reuters) - Juanita Castro, the estranged sister of Cuban President Fidel Castro, visited a Miami church Monday to pay last respects to one of her brother's most prominent and powerful foes.

Juanita Castro, who fled Cuba in 1965 and has denounced her brother and his communist government, joined thousands of members of Miami's Cuban-America community at St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church in Miami's Little Havana for a public viewing of the body of exile leader Jorge Mas Canosa.

Mas, founder of the powerful Cuban American National Foundation and widely believed to be a key architect of U.S. policy toward Cuba, died Sunday of complications from lung cancer. He was 58.

"It's very painful,'' Juanita Castro told ABC affiliate WPLG outside the church.

Juanita Castro keeps a low profile in the Miami exile community, speaking out occasionally against her brother. She has urged Cubans to resist Castro's rule and blamed him for the U.S. economic embargo against the island.

In a press interview in 1993, she denounced Cuba's one-party elections as a farce. In 1994 she said her brother's espousal of Marxism was a means of staying in power, saying: "His megalomania knows no limits.''

19:26 11-24-97