Castro's Cuba

April 25, 2000

The lengthy debate about the fate of Elian Gonzalez has once again focused attention on living conditions in Cuba. In that regard, I especially found a recent interview with Fidel Castro's daughter to be helpful. Alina Fernandez has been estranged from Castro since she defected from Cuba in 1993 disguised as a Spanish tourist. She now lives in Spain.

She warns that Elian will most likely be taken from his father and deprogrammed. Fernandez quoted one of her father's recent speeches in which he said that the Cuban government "will have to take care of [Elian's] mental condition once back." She explained that the Cuban government will fear that the child will spread criticism of the Cuban government or relate to other children his experiences in the United States. She said, "I don't know how they will deal with a little boy that already traveled and has been to Disneyworld. No children have done that in Cuba."

So what is life like for children his age? According to Fernandez, Cuban children his age are taught out of a Cuban history book. As they approach the junior high and high school years, they are removed from their families and sent to a boarding school in the countryside. At these "boarding schools," the children study half a day and then are sent to work in Castro's sugar fields for at least a half day.

Children are also forced to join the "pioneers" which Fernandez described as a "small communist militant." This political organization also indoctrinates children into the communist way of life. Fidel Castro's daughter reminds us that Cuba is far from a utopian Marxist state. It's a world where life is hard and basic freedoms are rare.

I'm Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries, and that's my opinion.