Jan 162010
Authors: K.C. Fleming

The daughter of infamous Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, Alina Fernandez, will talk tonight about her earliest memories, those which most Americans today only see in the history books.

Born in 1956, Fernandez will speak from an insider’s perspective about her upbringing, Castro as a father and her experiences with Cuban politics. From Castro’s revolution in 1959, to her defection and escape from Cuba in 1993, Fernandez was literally a part of history as it unfolded.

As a critic of her father and the Cuban government, she wrote a book in 1998 titled, “Castro’s Daughter: An Exile’s Memoir of Cuba,” which describes her upbringing as a member of the elite in a personal and intimate way.

Chigozie (Geo) Okocha, a junior political science major and president of the United Men of Color, the organization, which invited Fernandez to come to campus, said that students should come out to hear the author’s unique perspective on Castro.

“If you ask someone out on the streets about Cuba, they will probably be able to tell you that it’s communist. They will probably tell you that Fidel Castro is this horrid person, and some of it might be true.”

“But you may hear something totally different from Alina,” he said.

Guillermo Reyes, a student in the Ethnic Studies graduate program and a member of UMC, suggested having Fernandez speak as a part of today’s celebration of International Human Rights Day.

As an individual who supports Castro’s politics, however, Reyes also warns against taking everything Fernandez may say as the only perspective.

“Don’t take everything she says as the body of knowledge on Cuba just because of her stature, because you could speak to other people who don’t agree with her who are also Cuban,” he said. “I think it’s important that people be critical about the situation, because there are people at this school who support Castro’s politics.”

The UMC is a student organization that promotes an ethnically inclusive community at CSU. It encourages students to go to what they promise will be a very interesting event.

“‘Build community on campus,’ that is our mission statement, and we want to bring students, faculty and people of different ethnicities together,” Okocha said. “The purpose is so that people will have a better understanding of different cultures, different ethnicities.”

Many students around campus say they are excited to have this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

“I think it would be really interesting to be able to listen to the story about her life. It would just give a human perspective instead of just, like, seeing it in a history book,” said Veronica Jenssen, a freshman journalism and psychology major. “Putting a face to it would just make it really interesting, to me at least.”

Student government granted the UMC $6,000 to bring Fernandez to campus. Three hundred people are expected to attend.

Staff writer K.C. Fleming can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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