Fidel Castro’s Daughter Alina Shares Her Story

As Alina Fernández tells it, the revolution that has smothered freedom in Cuba for more than 50 years has never stifled the desire of Cubans for better lives.

The exiled daughter of Fidel Castro pensively told the dozens of students, faculty, staff, and members of the community in the GCU Casino on March 11 that she “hopes someday that will happen.”

In the meantime, Ms. Fernández said, she will continue to offer her personal witness of events that transformed Cuba into a repressed nation and impacted much of the entire world.

Ms. Fernández, who fled Cuba in 1993, is the author of Castro’s Daughter: An Exile’s Memoir of Cuba and host of a Miami radio show, Simplemente Alina (“Simply Alina”), on which she often interviews artists and musicians. Working with artistry herself during the presentation at GCU, Ms. Fernandez created a picture of the revolution as she had known it, brushed with pathos, color, and touches of humor.

The audience listened raptly as the diminutive and stylish daughter of one of the modern world’s most repressive dictators described him as a “master of control and manipulation,” a man who to her child’s eyes, seemed to be “everywhere at the same time” as he seized control of the news media, mail, phone lines, agriculture, art, and education. Ms. Fernández, whose suspicions that the man who came to visit regularly was actually her father would not be confirmed until she was 19, said he created an atmosphere of fear that permeated every level of society.

She spoke of how he rounded up and executed those he perceived as enemies, formed an alliance with the Soviet Union, set the stage for a near nuclear confrontation between the United States and the Soviets, and managed to insert his influence around the globe.

Ms. Fernandez noted several times that 11 U.S. presidents have been in office since he took power in 1959, and that despite the efforts of many exiles to bring freedom to Cuba, there have yet to be substantial changes.

In an extended and candid question-and-answer period, Ms. Fernández expressed her hopes that real change will one day come to Cuba. While there have been some improvements since her uncle Raul Castro became head of state in 2008, things remain remarkably static, she said.

As an example, she told how in the last six months, Cubans in the United States have technically been able to buy cars from China on the Internet to send to their relatives. The catch: they cost $50,000 each.

Her riveting insights on this still ongoing saga captivated students and members of the community, especially those with direct or familial connections to Cuba. Elizabeth Dudas of Point Pleasant, whose brother-in-law saw action in the Bay of Pigs incursion, said she was captivated by Fernandez’ first-hand observations. “You could almost see the pain in her face as she was recounting the story,” said Ms. Dudas.

GCU junior Christina De Luca, a social work major whose grandparents fled Cuba in 1965, found Ms. Fernandez “really compelling.”

“She was charismatic,” said Christina. “She could be funny at times, but she knew when to be serious.”

Contributed by Lois Rogers

As Alina Fernández tells it, the revolution that has smothered freedom in Cuba for more than 50 years has never stifled the desire of Cubans for better lives.

The exiled daughter of Fidel Castro pensively told the dozens of students, faculty, staff, and members of the community in the GCU Casino on March 11 that she “hopes someday that will happen.”

In the meantime, Ms. Fernández said, she will continue to offer her personal witness of events that transformed Cuba into a repressed nation and impacted much of the entire world.

Ms. Fernández, who fled Cuba in 1993, is the author of Castro’s Daughter: An Exile’s Memoir of Cuba and host of a Miami radio show, Simplemente Alina (“Simply Alina”), on which she often interviews artists and musicians. Working with artistry herself during the presentation at GCU, Ms. Fernandez created a picture of the revolution as she had known it, brushed with pathos, color, and touches of humor.

The audience listened raptly as the diminutive and stylish daughter of one of the modern world’s most repressive dictators described him as a “master of control and manipulation,” a man who to her child’s eyes, seemed to be “everywhere at the same time” as he seized control of the news media, mail, phone lines, agriculture, art, and education. Ms. Fernández, whose suspicions that the man who came to visit regularly was actually her father would not be confirmed until she was 19, said he created an atmosphere of fear that permeated every level of society.

She spoke of how he rounded up and executed those he perceived as enemies, formed an alliance with the Soviet Union, set the stage for a near nuclear confrontation between the United States and the Soviets, and managed to insert his influence around the globe.

Ms. Fernandez noted several times that 11 U.S. presidents have been in office since he took power in 1959, and that despite the efforts of many exiles to bring freedom to Cuba, there have yet to be substantial changes.

In an extended and candid question-and-answer period, Ms. Fernández expressed her hopes that real change will one day come to Cuba. While there have been some improvements since her uncle Raul Castro became head of state in 2008, things remain remarkably static, she said.

As an example, she told how in the last six months, Cubans in the United States have technically been able to buy cars from China on the Internet to send to their relatives. The catch: they cost $50,000 each.

Her riveting insights on this still ongoing saga captivated students and members of the community, especially those with direct or familial connections to Cuba. Elizabeth Dudas of Point Pleasant, whose brother-in-law saw action in the Bay of Pigs incursion, said she was captivated by Fernandez’ first-hand observations. “You could almost see the pain in her face as she was recounting the story,” said Ms. Dudas.

GCU junior Christina De Luca, a social work major whose grandparents fled Cuba in 1965, found Ms. Fernandez “really compelling.”

“She was charismatic,” said Christina. “She could be funny at times, but she knew when to be serious.”

Contributed by Lois Rogers

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