Atlanta businessman: Fidel Castro was ‘quite a personality’

Fidel Castro and USA Poultry & Egg Export Council President Jim Sumner (Credit: Jim Sumner)

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Fidel Castro and USA Poultry & Egg Export Council President Jim Sumner (Credit: Jim Sumner)

An Atlanta businessman who met the late Fidel Castro multiple times in Cuba remembered him as “an amazing person” who was personable and knowledgeable.

Jim Sumner, president of the Stone Mountain-based USA Poultry & Egg Export Council, has traveled to Cuba with poultry-industry leaders and said he remembers meeting with Fidel Castro three times — in 2001, 2005 and 2009.

Sumner called Castro “probably one of the most intelligent people I’ve ever met. He was so informed on every subject.”

On what Castro’s death could mean for Cuba-U.S. relations, Sumner said, “It’s a good question … I’ve always wondered how closely Fidel monitored Raul [Castro]’s positions, and if that will change.”

As news spread of Fidel Castro’s death, the poultry association head said he remembered Castro as “very personable.”

“I don’t want to make him out as a great human being or anything like that, because he certainly had his flawed ways of thinking and has done some horrible things through his life,” Sumner said. “But he was nevertheless one of the most impressive people I have ever met. He’s quite a personality, you know.”

In meetings with poultry-industry representatives, Castro would “start rattling off conversion rates for feed and everything, and we were just all awestruck at just how smart the guy was on almost any subject,” Sumner said.

“He would talk nonstop, without even a sip of water, for hours — and I mean three or four hours nonstop,” Sumner said. “Often times when we were with him, we didn’t get to leave the palace until 3 or 4 in the morning because he would keep us up talking, and have a dinner. It was amazing.”