From Nathan Crabbe, writing for the Gainesville Sun.
Like many Cuban immigrants, Alina Fernández settled in Miami after fleeing the country.
But Fernández is different: She’s the daughter of Fidel Castro.
“I’m surrounded by people that really hate my father and were really damaged by him,” she said.
Fernández spoke Wednesday to a crowd of nearly 600 people at the University of Florida in an event held as part of Hispanic Heritage Month. Since fleeing Cuba in 1993, she’s written the book “Castro’s Daughter: An Exile’s Memoir of Cuba” and now hosts a radio show in Miami.
She’s a critic of her father, the leader of the Cuban Revolution who served as president until health problems led to his resignation in 2008. Fidel Castro’s brother, Raúl, then took over.
This month, the Cuban government announced some of the biggest changes to its economy in decades. It is laying off 500,000 workers and allowing citizens to work in some private activities. But Fernández questioned the scope of the reforms, saying they will allow people only to work in limited kinds of employment such as cutting hair or cleaning houses.
“They are the most bizarre jobs you’ve ever heard about,” she said.
Fernandez, 54, is the product of an affair that Castro had with her mother, Natalia Revuelta, before he took power. She said Castro wrote love letters to both to his wife and her mother while he was imprisoned before the revolution. The affair was revealed to Castro’s wife when a prison censor switched the envelopes.
“A few months later Fidel found himself free from prison and free from marriage,” she said.
She was just a toddler when Castro helped overthrow the Batista government in 1959. She recalled watching cartoons at the time and having them disappear from the television, replaced by revolutionaries. She later found one of the revolutionaries in a cloud of cigar smoke in her living room — the man who turned out to be her father.
“That was for me the beginning of the end of the revolution in Cuba,” she said.
She described subsequent years when the execution of political opponents, the suppression of freedoms and a lack of food and other necessities became the norm. She became disillusioned and joined a group of dissidents. In 1993, she posed as a Spanish tourist to escape the country.
The ACCENT student-run speakers bureau sponsored her speech. Fernández was paid $7,000, according to Student Government.
Fernández said she foresees changes in Cuba when the older generation passes away. In a question-and-answer session after her speech, she told a student whose family fled Cuba that she expected that young people like him would return to the country to make it a better place.
“I think the future is going to be brilliant,” she said.
You can find the original report at http://www.gainesville.com/article/20100929/ARTICLES/100929426/1002?p=all&tc=pgall