Beautiful, intelligent, affluent – as Félix de Cossío portrayed her, dressed for a party – Natalia Revuelta Clews was collaborating with the Orthodox Party when, on 10 March 1952, hearing of Batista’s coup d’etat on the way to her job as an executive at Esso Standard Oil, she ordered two sets of copies of the keys to her home in Vedado: one for Milla Ochoa, leader of the Orthodox Party, and the other for another Orthodox Party member, Fidel Castro. Giving them the keys was offering them a safe place in case of danger. Fidel and Naty didn’t know each other personally, but that action would mark the rest of her life.
A university degree, fluency in three languages, and a strong culture would have allowed her to engage in any activity; but she was relegated to the mid-level bureaucracy, always under the burden of her adulterous relationship with Fidel – a petty-bourgeois prejudice of the Marxist Revolution. She went on trying to be useful.
I met her through my husband, with whom she shared half a century of friendship, and we were friends despite the huge differences we had on matters of politics. Our conversations were peppered with disagreements, but we never allowed such differences to tarnish our good relationship.
Many knew her as “the mother of Fidel’s daughter” and it’s easy to assume that she enjoyed the privileges of a kept woman. Quite the contrary, the personal and social cost was enormous. Among other things, Naty pawned her jewels to finance in part the Moncada Assault and, at the triumph of the Revolution, she gave her home (now a diplomatic residence) and moved to a smaller house.
The society to which she belonged never forgave her; and her daughters had to suffer the breakup of the family they knew. She felt responsible for the estrangement of her daughters, and never said anything that reflected badly on them; on the contrary, she was happy with the achievements of both and especially proud of her granddaughter.
It was in my house where she came to vent her humiliation of having been excluded from the celebrations for the release of the Moncada barracks attackers. They also refused her a place in the 26 th of July events, despite her having been the third woman to become a “moncadista.” All this happened after her daughter Alina fled the country.
Naty gave me the complete originals of the correspondence between her and Fidel Castro during the almost two years he was in prison on the Isle of Pines
Life often offers substitutes. Naty was a required presence at book launches, concerts or exhibitions; she was always invited to the activities at the diplomatic sees of Spain, Netherlands or the United States; she was a supporter of the National Library or of the Fragua Martiana (Marti’s Forge).
In her later years she was assiduous in a history group at the Dulce Maria Loynaz Cultural Center and dedicated many hours to reading and selecting what came to her by email to forward the articles and news that were of interest to her friends. This effort came to overwhelm her, but she considered it a duty to share this information, which they later thanked her for.
Naty’s confidence in me became clear ten years ago when she gave me the complete originals of the correspondence between her and Fidel Castro during the almost two years he was in prison on the Isle of Pines and later when he was in Mexico, to organize chronologically and transcribe into digital format.
It was weeks of work to unravel with a magnifying glass the rushed and cramped handwriting of the letters from the Presidio Modelo; however Naty’s letters were very easy because they were typed. Letters that the whole world had heard of but very few had seen and that Naty, aware of the value of this collection of paper, had never given to the Council of State’s Office of Historical Affairs, nor did she want them published in her lifetime. Now, major publishers will begin the bidding with her daughter Alina, fruit of that relationship and inheritor of the correspondence.
Behind all the media attention she has always sparked, Naty was a woman who paid for her decisions and who was loyal, not to Fidel Castro as many think, since over the years she learned to separate the public man from the private, but with the idea of social justice associated with the triumph of the 1959 Revolution.
Like any human being, she had her defects and virtues. Everyone will have their own Naty Revuelta, a character worthy of literature.