CUBA NEWS
September 28, 2007

Castro's daughter recalls homeland for Berks audience

She describes her father as a tall, hairy man wreathed in cigar smoke whose image replaced the cartoons she watched on television as a child.

By Félix Alfonso Peña. Reading Eagle, September 26, 2007.

Berks County, PA - Fidel Castro's daughter has a sense of humor.

Addressing a virtually full house Tuesday night in the Perkins Student Center Auditorium at Penn State Berks, Alina Fernandez Revuelta entertained and informed the audience with humorous stories and facts about her Cuban homeland.

She also spoke of Castro, whom she described as a tall, hairy man wreathed in cigar smoke and dressed in green fatigues who visited the home where she lived with her mother, Nati Revuelta.

Fernandez described her mother as striking: tan and blonde, "with a voluptuous criolla figure like a Coca Cola bottle."

Nati married Orlando Fernandez, a doctor who had operated on her ruptured appendix and fell in love with her, Fernandez said.

They had one child, Fernandez's older sister, but then Fulgencio Batista overthrew the government.

The struggle against Batista brought together Nati and Fidel Castro, then an opposition candidate.

Nati and Fidel wrote to each other when he was imprisoned, Fernandez said, and she believes it was through those letters that they fell in love.

Fernandez told of watching cartoons on television one day in 1959, when she was 3 years old. Suddenly the images showed triumphant men marching through the streets.

"The cartoons were replaced by hairy men - for 50 years," she said.

Shouts of "¡Viva Cuba libre!" (Long live free Cuba!) were soon replaced by shouts of "¡Paredón!" (To the wall!), as the revolution ensured its permanence by brutally annihilating the opposition, Fernandez said.

Orlando had to abandon the country, taking his daughter with him, because his clinic was an example of free enterprise. Street vendors were prohibited for the same reason.

"They even took out the parking meters," she said. "Well, maybe that was a good thing."

At age 10, she learned who her biological father was.

At first she enjoyed the freedom from having to write essays at school about her counterrevolutionary father and older sister, but then people started bringing petitions to her, hoping to catch Castro's ear.

But for all its rhetoric, the regime could never answer her questions about social issues.

Discontented, Fernandez studied medicine and later diplomacy but did not finish her degrees.

She became a model and later a public-relations director for a Cuban fashion company.

She also became a dissident.

Friends in the United States sent her enough money to engineer her escape to Madrid, disguised as a Spanish tourist, in December 1993.

Two weeks later her teenage daughter was allowed to leave.

Does she miss anything from Cuba?

"I miss the dancing," she said, describing how a record player and a place to dance were all the entertainment people needed.

Would she go back to a post-Castro Cuba?

"It's not a place I want to go back to," she said, "but maybe, if I could feel useful."

Contact Félix Alfonso Peña at 610-371-5037 or [email protected]

©2007 Reading Eagle Company


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