Even Fidel's Daughter Wants Him Out of Power
Still, even though Fidel Castro's recent health problems brought partying and smiles throughout South Florida's Cuban communities, Castro's only known daughter, Alina Fernandez Revuelta, has never gone so far as to wish for her father's demise.
"It's not the type of celebration I would join," said Fernandez, 50, who struggles to communicate complex thoughts in English. "I cannot criticize the way people feel. For sure, I would like to see some more solemn (reaction) to the news...(But) there are a lot of poeple here who have been hurt very badly. Those people know I'm on their side...I'm a critic of the regime; I just do it in another way."
During a short interview Thursday, Fernandez has trouble connecting her thoughts, blaming fatigue and her poor grasp of English. She'd better get up to speed quickly, though, because CNN has just hired her as a Miami-based correspondent in the wake of her father's unprecedented move to transfer power to his brother during a recent health scare.
In a press release, CNN touts Fernandez's connection to the Cuban community. But the former model has also endured criticism for trying to support herself through her connection to the Cuban leader -- she is his illegitimate daughter, born of an affair he had with socialite Natalia Revuelta before the Commuist revolution, when both were married to other people (Castro reportedly has many such children).
Though she claims no special knowledge of the situation, Fernandez believes current reports that Castro is still alive and well, and wonders if the recent transfer of power was simply a way to test how the world might react to the succession if he actually died. "Fidel Castro is a person who will never do one thing for one reason," she said, speaking by telephone from the Miami research lab where she serves as a technician. "He always covers multiple purposes."
Besides the lab technician's job, Fernanadez has hosted a radio show since 2002 on WQBA-AM. And she wrote a book highly critical Castro in 1997 dubbed Alina: The Memoirs of Fidel Castro's Rebel Daughter. But she doesn't seem to have many credentials as a journalist, despite past appearances on CNN to speak about her father and former home.
Fernandez left Cuba in 1993 disguised as a Spanish tourist, living in Madrid, Spain, New York City and Atlanta before settling in Miami's Little Havana neighborhood aout five years ago. But despite a long record of speaking out against Castro, some exiles still express discomfort over being joined by the daughter of the leader they have come to hate so heartily. And another relative of Castro who opposes him and lives in South Florida, his sister Juanita, sued Fernandez in 1998 for sections of the book she says libelled their family history.
Now, feeding cells in petri dishes while speaking to me, Fernandez says she wouldn't even travel to Cuba for Castro's funeral.
"Cuba is always a very controversial place. But the more people have information about it, the more they can make their own decisions. I bring as much informatino as I can and, of course, bring my own perspective...and allow people to make their own conclusion. Who would see anything wrong with that?"
Katie Couric Gets Commentaries -- But Not Just From Schieffer
Since Couric's announcement as CBS anchor there's been rampant speculation on what interim anchor Bob Schieffer might do -- after all, he's led a surge of 300,000 viewers in the past year, and been awfully gracious about giving up his chair for the former Today host.
It was always assumed that Schieffer would provide commentaries for the show similar to the ones he does at the tail end of his Sunday political program, Face the Nation. But on Thursday, CBS announced a new feature dubbed Free Speech, in which a range of folks will provide commentaries, including average citizens, so-called "newsmakers" and
-- surprise! -- Schieffer himself.
Why they buried Schieffer's participation in the third paragraph of a four-paragraph release, I'll never know. But it also highlights another possible product of Couric's much-talked-about "listening tour" of media markets.
Posters to CBS' Public Eye blog are already grousing that Couric has said opinion and bloviating is what many people said they didn't want in a TV newscast. But if this feature works as well as NPR's revival of the classic radio commentary series This I Believe, it could be a keeper...
South Park and Comedy Central Enter Mel Gibson Scandal Territory
They planned the ad long before Mr. Lethal Weapon revealed how alcohol brings out the anti-Semite in him. But the good folks at South Park and Comedy Central are still basking in the reaction to their so-un-P.C.-it-hurts ad for the Emmy-nominated South Park episode that reportedly inspired Isaac Hayes to quit the show and Tom Cruise to try squelching it in re-runs. Instead, Mr. Mission Impossible gave the episode so much publicity it might win TV's highest award. And that's the kind of irony even Ethan Hunt might appreciate.