Alina Fernandez, Fidel Castro's daughter talks of life in Cuba
By: Sam Kemerer
"I think that freedom is very important and that it has a price,"
explained Alina Fernandez. Fernandez, Fidel Castro's daughter, spoke to
a very large crowed in the Barben rooms on Tuesday, October 20. Her
speech touched upon many subjects but revolved around growing up in Cuba
as Castro's daughter.
Her biographical speech began with a love story. She described her
mother as "her sprite". She was her fairy tale when all was bad. As a
teenager, her mother was "the coca cola before it became a can," and her
father was the boy that walked miles to get to school. They met because
of the revolution; they were just two people brought together by a
political cause who would fall in love.
After their initial meeting, Castro was sent to jail. Her mother kept in
contact with him by exchanging letters, "Their love began that way,"
explained Fernandez. But, Castro was still married to another woman and
he and his wife exchanged letters as well.
Then, according to Fernandez, her father mixed up the letters on purpose
and his marriage ended shortly after. "There's a lesson for this," said
Fernandez. "Men can cheat, even from jail."
Shortly after Castro was released from prison in 1955, Fernandez was
conceived. But Castro did not stick around and her mother was still
living with her stepfather. "The world is yours," Fernandez explained as
she described the innocence of early childhood.
Unfortunately, her childhood innocence was stripped from her at an early
age when rebels began showing up on her television screen. Uncle
Scourge, his nephews, and Mickey Mouse "vanished from the screen
forever," Fernandez explained. "Life went from white to black and stayed
gray for a long time."
The revolution was at its peek and Fernandez's life was quickly
changing. "I barely saw my sprite anymore, even on the weekends," said
Fernandez. Freedom of speech and expression quickly vanished on the
island. Castro "seemed to know exactly what to do control wise,"
Her stepfather and stepsister fled to the United States. Agriculture
belonged to the state and food was distributed using rationing booklets.
Cubans "barely survived." Fidel wanted everyone in Cuba to know how to
read; he was "full of ideas." Secret police began appearing in every
town to watch people. Castro was "aiming to control people in the most
absolute way," explained Fernandez.
She described Castro as "the man that had stepped out of [her] TV
screen." He came around more and more at night. She liked that he made
her mother happy but her grandma called him, "the devil," described
Fernandez. "It was confusing."
Fernandez explained that she was a part of a generation that sat in
front of the TV set and "prayed" that Castro would be done speaking by
7:00 p.m. so that they could watch Russian silent cartoons.
It was a fight against American imperialism. "Hate to America became the
slogan of my country," explained Fernandez. She described how Cuba
accused the United States of intervening in other countries while,
hypocritically, Cuba was involved in there own guerrilla wars in many
small countries. "So much was going on, on such a small little island,"
When she was ten, it was publicly revealed the Fernandez was Castro's
daughter. Others began coming to her with their tragedies. "It's very
hard to go to school when there's a line outside your house and you
can't do anything to help," described Fernandez.
Since she was 14, Fernandez wanted to leave Cuba. She tried convincing
her father, but was told that she could not because it would be a
"political issue." Eventually she married and remarried as many do in
Cuba. "I don't practice the sport anymore," joked Fernandez.
Soon, she had a daughter and her priorities changed. And, when the
schools almost closed, she took her daughter and fled for the United
States in 1993 so that her daughter could receive an education.
She explained that now, with rights, she can do "anything." She now
lives in Miami and currently works four jobs. "Everybody pays bad so you
have to stay busy," Fernandez said. In regard to Cuba, Fernandez has
said that she will not return, even for a visit.
She considers Cuba a subject that "always" brings about passion. "You
take sides without knowing the fight," explained Fernandez.
Alina Fernandez, Fidel Castro's daughter talks of life in Cuba – News
(26 October 2009)