Portrait of Alina Fernandez Castro
It’s not easy to remain emotionally detached. You managed it, but at what cost?
“At what cost? I don’t really talk about cost because when you buy treasure, it’s priceless. Freedom is a priceless treasure. At the beginning of the revolution, the first thing to go was family, and all the values that come with that. At that time in Cuba, people were scared for the future, and through the American Church, decided to send their children to the United States in the hopes that they would join them later. 14,048 children left the island. But then Fidel banned travel permits and since 1959, people can’t leave the country. Many of those children never saw their parents again. Others have led happy lives, and others still blame their parents, asking why they were sent to the United States. It’s a tragedy for those families.”
Centuries of Spanish colonialism are an integral part of Cuba’s history, as is resourcefulness. It’s a question of survival and mentality. During the conversation, Castro explains that what she is most ashamed of in the Cuban regime is the belief that anyone who thinks differently is an enemy. Public protests are still banned in Cuba. There is no freedom of association, even within people’s home. It is forbidden.
“The fact is, the state has disarmed and executed all those who wanted to rebel. It is forbidden to gather in people’s homes to prevent them from making anti-Fidel remarks. Everyone is under surveillance, and if someone informs on them they go to prison... Obviously you can’t organize a revolution or a coup without talking, meetings, or preparation. This community police has infiltrated every neighborhood, which means they can control people and find out what’s happening... So no, we can’t do anything. It’s impossible to organize a rebellion in Cuba. We can only try to flee.”