- Title: Man behind Fidel Castro's "Granma" yacht mourns revolutionary
- Date: 26th November 2016
- Summary: CLOSE-UP OF CASTRO IN THE PICTURE
- Embargoed: 11th December 2016 20:30
- Keywords: Cuba Fidel Castro death Granma boat Antonio del Conde
- Location: MEXICO CITY, TUXPAN, VERACRUZ STATE, MEXICO AND HAVANA, CUBA
- City: MEXICO CITY, TUXPAN, VERACRUZ STATE, MEXICO AND HAVANA, CUBA
- Country: Mexico
- Topics: Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA0045A2ZX3B
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: The man who helped a young Fidel Castro set sail for revolution remembered his old friend on Saturday (November 26), saying he was speechless over his death exactly 60 years after he furnished Castro with a weapons-filled yacht for his voyage to Cuba.
Mexico City gun dealer Antonio del Conde, nicknamed "The Friend", met Castro in the 1950s and bought him the "Granma" for his departure from the Mexican Gulf coast town of Tuxpan to lead the insurgency, where after they became friends.
Del Conde said he was speechless when he learned of Castro's death.
"When a friend and comrade told me, because I had just arrived to Tuxpan, I couldn't speak. He changed my life, like he changed the lives of many people in different countries around the world, not just in the Americas," del Conde said in an interview at his home in Mexico City.
Cuban leader Raul Castro said his brother died on Friday (November 25) evening, almost 60 years to the day since Fidel and a band of armed comrades left Tuxpan to start the revolution which ultimately overthrew U.S.-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista.
Fidel Castro died at 90 years old, the same age as del Conde.
A sepia-toned photograph hung on the wall of del Conde's scattered apartment in a colonial part of the city showing del Conde drinking malt beer over dinner with Fidel, Raul and left-wing icon Ernesto "Che" Guevara after the revolution.
Del Conde first met Castro in 1955, when the young leader walked into his arms shop in Mexico City saying that he wanted to buy something.
"I met him around 1955 at an arms dealership I had. He came into my store to buy from me," del Conde said.
Del Conde bought the Granma from an American couple for the Cubans and loaded it with weapons and fuel.
The yacht, only supposed to hold a handful of people, was said to have been named after the grandmother of its original owner. It has since given its name to Cuba's Communist Party newspaper.
The 82 insurgents, including "Che" Guevara, left from Tuxpan, Mexico, in the early hours of November 26, 1956, to land in Cuba a week later. They overthrew Batista in 1959.
Castro died the same day that a group gathered in Tuxpan to commemorate the 60 year anniversary of the Granma's departure.
"We prepared the expedition in my boat, in the Granma yacht, and just yesterday in Tuxpan, we celebrated the Granma's voyage of 60 years ago. Of course I asked for a round of applause for him when I spoke. I asked for a round of applause for the commander, Fidel Castro. We all stood up and applauded," he added.
The yacht now sits inside a glass case in the Museum of the Revolution in Havana.
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