Coverage of a talk at UNCA by Alina Fernandez, daughter of Fidel Castro (via Twitter)

Alina Fernandez, daughter of former Cuban President Fidel Castro, spoke tonight (Sept. 28) at UNCA, one of several events during National Hispanic Heritage Month, Sept. 15-Oct. 15. Fernandez’s talk was scheduled for 7 p.m. in the Humanities Lecture Hall.

Below is both an aggregation of tweets and the Twitter feed from the live coverage of her talk, courtesy of UNCA’s The Blue Banner and Mary Caitlin Byrd

Fernandez, who left Cuba and lives in the U.S., shared her recollections of life in her homeland, her relationship with her father, her decision to leave, and the challenges she and other Cuban exiles face living in the U.S.

This talk, sponsored by Herman@s Orgullos@s en las Americas (HOLA) and UNC Asheville’s Student Government Association, was free and open to the public.

Aggregation of tweets by the Blue Banner and Mary Caitlin Byrd who attended Alina Fernandez’s Sept. 28 talk at UNCA:

6:53 p.m.:Seats are filling up fast here at the lecture hall to hear Alina Fernandez speak tonight. Some folks are standing in the back of the lecture hall.
Overheard at Fernandez event: “Maybe we should have had this at Lipinsky.”
Students are sitting on the ground waiting to hear Fernandez speak.

Full house here waiting for Fernandez to speak.
Warren Wilson chapter of HOLA also in attendance. SGA and HOLA sponsored the event.

Fernandez: It is a great pleasure to be here tonight.
Round of applause for Fernandez at the podium.
Fernandez: Everything began with something called revolution.
Fernandez: I was able to escape my own country in Dec. of 1993.
Fernandez: My mother and father born in the same year on the opposite side of the island. Good luck followed my mother everywhere.

Fernandez: I come from a country where the revolution is endless.
Fernandez: Things were very difficult and dangerous.
Fernandez: Fidel included her [Fernandez’s mother] in all the conspiracies of his movement.
Fernandez describes her household, specifically: “her matriarchal mother and her hopelessly existential father. He liked mojitos.”
On her mother writing to Fidel in jail: “A lot of you don’t know how powerful a letter can be. You should try it sometime.” Most of you don’t know the power of a letter, the touch, the smell, the texture.
Fernandez is talking about her mother’s affair w/ Fidel, and what happened when his wife found out. “Men can cheat even in jail.”
Fernandez: Life was gracious until the world changed one morning that I remember too well.
Fernandez: Fidel met her mother secretly and conceived a child, Alina. “And, now I can take a bow.”
Fernandez: Remembers watching cartoons when “Viva Cuba Libre” came on the television screen.

Here’s a photo we took of Alina Fernandez beginning her talk:

Fernandez: Hailed by thousands , if not millions of people, and he [Fidel Castro] gave his first speech. It lasted 7 hours.
Fernandez: Even Christmas became something bad. It was a capitalistic celebration.
When Fernandez was young, she “saw a man blindfolded against a wall whose shirt was covered with dark spots. It took me more than three years to realize what I witnessed was an execution.”
Fernandez: In those days he would jump from the television screen to the living room just like that.
Fernandez: The man who stepped out of the TV screen and into the living room, he visited our house very often, usually at night.
Fernandez: Religion became an ideological weakness very fast.
Fernandez: Artists, dancers were sent to a military camp to continue the production. That’s how culture suffered.
Fernandez: You receive some ounces of sugar, coffee, rice and beans. But it’s never enough.
Fernandez: Since 1960 Cubans rarely survive with a ration and booklet.
Fernandez: “Pacifiers disappeared with everything else. They might have been considered capitalistic celebration among babies.”
Fernandez: Who needed more of Fidel Castro? He was overwhelming. He was everywhere.
Fernandez: “Only grandma called him the devil.”
Fernandez: I was part of the generation who used to sit in front of the TV praying for him to let us have 1 hour of cartoons.
Fernandez: Little did I know, there were 10 Fidel’s acting at any time.
Fernandez: Do you know that Cuba has been involved in all the guerillas and wars that took place within the 20th century?
Fernandez: Many countries in Latin America are under the despair of Castro’s ideology.
Fernandez: I already knew that Fidel would never be a regular father.
Fernandez: There’s just so much going on in this small, little island.
Fernandez: It is hard to tell a country’s story and a personal story at the same time.

A man in the audience asks about the truth about Che. Fernandez says Che was sent to the Congo at the beginning of the revolution.

An audience member asks what she thinks about US relationship with Cuba and how it could be improved.
Fernandez: When something looks like a defeat to him, he turns that to work in his favor.
Fernandez says she doesn’t have any privileged information about her father’s health.
Fernandez: Everybody dreamed to come to America. So it’s a love-hate.

An audience member who’s visited Cuba says she didn’t feel hated there. Fernandez: “No, of course, because they love your dollars.”

Fernandez on adjusting to Western culture: I still make mistakes. It’s a big change.

Fernandez answers question on young people’s thoughts about revolution: Everybody is different.

Fernandez says her mother is still in Cuba. “She is still a believer and thinks that things will get better.”

Cuban man here who came to US says he would like to bring hope of nonviolence to Cuba.
Fernandez: There’s not much we can do from the outside. We can’t go back.

Fernandez responding to question about secret police: If you have access to Fidel Castro then you are under surveillance 24/7.

Fernandez says, yes, that this dialogue is a very generational thing.

Audience member: Do you think the Cubans in Miami are more willing to have dialogue with Havana?
Fernandez: But I became the enemy because I think differently.

Fernandez says her uncle was a very good family-man, reliable.

Audience member asks if she thinks her father had a moral code, if so which one?
Fernandez: I really don’t know. He is a very bizarre person, emotionally. I think he considers emotions a weakness.

Fernandez: You cannot navigate through the internet. People don’t have Twitter or Facebook or anything like that. People don’t have internet access whatsoever in Cuba.

Audience member: Would you ever go back?
Fernandez: I don’t know. I wouldn’t be the first person on the first plane.

Individual audience members thanking Fernandez for coming and talking.
Audience member, “I want to thank you for sharing your experience, your courage.”

8:19 p.m.: Standing ovation for Fernandez.

Here’s a video we shot of Fernandez speaking on Cuban economy and the disappearance of Mickey Mouse from her youth:

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One thought on “Coverage of a talk at UNCA by Alina Fernandez, daughter of Fidel Castro (via Twitter)

  1. Rich Haney

    Elina takes advantage of being able to speak to the choir, which consists of people who have never been to Cuba. I have. Cuba has three state-run T. V. stations and one of them is devoted exclusively to children’s programming, especially American-made cartoons.

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