Alina Fernandez, the rebellious daughter of Cuban former ruler Fidel Castro, has gone from Miami to Havana to be with her seriously ill mother. It’s her first trip back since 1993, when she escaped the island using an altered passport and wig.
A woman who answered the phone Tuesday at the home of the 88-year-old mother, Natalia “Naty” Revuelta Clews, said Fernandez was out of the house but would be back in the evening. She later said the family was focusing on Revuelta and would not make a comment.
Max Lesnik, a Miamian who has friends high in the Cuban government and regularly travels to Cuba, reported in his El Duende column Tuesday that Fernandez, 58 and a Miami radio personality, has been spotted in Havana.
The visit by Fernandez, a regular and strident critic of Castro and his government, could mark another advance in the long-hostile relations between the Cuban government and Cubans abroad who oppose the communist system.
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Her visit was presumed to have been approved by the Cuban government, whose security services control all who enter and leave the nation. Among other recent visitors have been wealthy exile businessmen Paul Cejas, Carlos Saladrigas, and Alfie Fanjul.
In her 1998 autobiography, Castro’s Daughter: An Exile's Memoir of Cuba, Fernandez criticized her father as a distant dictator and wrote that she was closer to his brother, current Cuba ruler Raúl Castro, describing him as a good family man.
“He was the person to whom you could go to and ask for help every time you had a practical problem,” she added in a 2008 interview with Foreign Policy magazine. On personal issues, she added, “Fidel was totally unhelpful.”
Just six weeks ago, Fernandez told the EFE news agency in Miami that it was not the right time for her to return to Cuba, even though it was “very sad” that she could not see her 88-year-old mother and described her father as cruel.
“I don’t want problems” in Cuba, Fernandez said in the interview. “It makes me very sad, because my mother is old” and “to see your mother and to want to do something for her is a law of nature, something visceral.”
Friends of Fernandez say Revuelta fell recently in her Havana home and has been in declining health for several months.
Fernandez was born in 1956 after Revuelta, a Havana beauty then married to Orlando Fernandez, had an affair with Fidel Castro, then a young revolutionary and lawyer married to Mirta Diaz-Balart.
She was raised by her mother but knew from the age of 10 that Castro was her father and worked variously as a model in a combination clothing shop-nightclub in Havana and as public-relations director for a clothing line.
Long known for her harsh croticisms of Fidel Castro, she fled Cuba for Spain in 1993 using false documents and a disguise arranged by two friends abroad, Cuba-born Osvaldo Fructuoso Rodriguez and Maripaz Martinez of Spain.
Asked in the EFE interview if she hated her father, she said, “No. Hate him, no. Hate is too strong a word. … I see him as having a pretty elevated level of cruelty, but I never reached the point of hating him. Never.”
Fernandez moved to Miami with her daughter, Alina “Mumín” Salgado. Fernandez wrote columns for el Nuevo Herald from 2009-2010, and for many years hosted a program on WQBA radio called Simplemente Alina (Simply Alina). She now has a short segment weekdays during the 3-5 pm slot on WWFE-670 AM.
Juanita Castro, sister of Fidel and Raúl, won a $45,000 judgment against Fernández in a Spanish court, arguing that the autobiography’s portrayal of the Castros’ parents, Angel Castro and Lina Ruz, libeled the family.
Two years ago, Fernandez filed suit to recover $100,000 she paid toward the purchase of a $1.6 million house in Kendall. Several Miami men have been arrested and charged with a real-estate scam.
Asked by EFE if she would ever like to meet with Fidel Castro again, she said, “That’s not a realistic possibility. … I believe that there’s an absolute lack of interest on both sides. I have nothing to say to him.”
As for how her father will be regarded years down the road, she said, “For Cubans, the legacy of Castro is a country ruined and with part of its people in exile, an experience very hard and very difficult to cure.”