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    Alina Fernandez Talks Growing Up in Cuba Under Castro
    September 24, 2010 at 4:45 AM by Steven McDole

    DUBOIS – Alina Fernandez, daughter of Fidel Castro, spoke in the Hiller
    Auditorium Thursday night at the Penn State DuBois campus about her
    life. Fernandez spoke of being just old enough to remember life prior
    the fall of Batista and young enough to remember the night Castro took
    power as the night "Mickey Mouse and Uncle Scrooge vanished forever."
    Fernandez escaped to the United States in 1993 bringing her daughter
    with her.

    The talk, one of the first events of the Performing Arts and Lecture
    Series, covered the changes she witnessed in her country as she grew up
    and some of her life as a daughter of the former ruler of Cuba. She
    joked on occasion, opening up the evening saying that she had been lied
    to in regards to the bottle of water she had at the podium, "… I was
    expecting Vodka"

    Fernandez was born after her mother's husband fled during the revolution
    to the United States and after Castro's wife divorced him while he was
    imprisoned for his role in the assault on the Moncada Barracks. During
    his imprisonment he was writing love letters to both his wife and
    Fernandez's mother. Fernandez stated that the guards, while inspecting
    mail. either on purpose or by accident, switched which letter went to
    which envelope, revealing the affair.

    Fernandez recalled the early days of Castro rule as initially jubilant.
    The atmosphere began to change as time went on.

    "You could see Cubans trade their former laughter for destructive
    tendency," said Fernandez.

    Christmas ceased to be celebrated, though it would eventually return.
    Flavored ice cream was no longer served. Private fences and parking
    meters were destroyed as signs of oppression. Optimistic shouts
    regarding the revolution becoming shouts of "to the wall." It would be
    a few years before she was old enough to realize she had witnessed

    When the middle class and specialists attempted to leave Castro's Cuba,
    travel was banned. Religion, freedom of press and freedom expression
    soon followed. Dancers, artists and homosexuals were relocated to
    "military units to help the effort."

    "The child is able to adapt gloriously to anything," said Fernandez.

    As a child she originally knew Castro as top of the "hairy men," the
    revolutionaries, who made the jump from television into her living room.
    This only occurred at nights. The visits cheered up her mother.

    "Only my grandmother called him the devil," said Fernandez.

    When it was revealed Castro was her real father, Fernandez stated she
    was initially relieved. Until then, growing up under the instated
    education system, she had been taught in schools people like the man she
    thought had been her father and her half-sister who left Cuba with him
    were traitors. Once word spread people began to line up outside her
    house to give her letters to pass along to her father asking for help.

    As Fernandez grew up she joined the dissident movement, as she learned
    "voluntarily" under her father's rule often meant "mandatory." The
    people begging her to get her father to help them in their need were
    said to actually be trying to overthrow Castro.

    When the United Soviet Socialists Republic fell, Cuba was hit by hard
    times, according to Fernandez. Food became scarce even under rationing.
    In her lifetime the country had gone from kids watching cartoons to
    having electricity for a few hours was considered a good day.

    Wanting her daughter to have a good education meant both of them had to
    leave the country.

    Following her presentation, Fernandez took questions from the audiance.
    In regards to the U.S. embargo, it will end when the Castro family
    wishes it to end.

    The public was welcomed, along with students, to the first event of the
    lecuture series.

    "For the Cuban regime it is the best context for the plight of the rural
    community," said Fernandez.

    She added that "anyone with a head" knew that Cuba had been supported by
    Russia. When the Soviet Union fell so did that support. She accused
    the Cuban government of intentionally shooting at aircraft in
    international waters attempting to give aid to Cuban refugees in 1996 as
    part of a planned act to turn public opinion in the U.S. against lifting
    the embargo under President Bill Clinton.

    According to Fernandez the country will not improve until the Castro
    family dies out.

    "I think the process is very personalized by the Castro family," said

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