*LEF307   12/22/93


(State announcement) all (680)

(With Lsi306 of 12/22/93)

WASHINGTON -- Fidel Castro's daughter Alina Fernandez Revuelta has arrived

in Atlanta, Georgia, after being granted the equivalent of political asylum

in the United States, the State Department said Dec. 22.

David Johnson, director of press relations, told reporters that Fernandez

left Havana and traveled to Spain Dec. 20, and arrived in Atlanta the

following day aboard a commercial flight from Madrid.

Fernandez, believed to be in her late 30s, traveled by herself, he said.

News reports said she left a teen-aged daughter in Cuba, where her father

has been in power since 1959.

"She contacted our embassy to ask consideration for asylum after she arrived

in Madrid," Johnson said.  "After review with the Immigration and

Naturalization Service, a decision was made to grant her request.  In the

terms employed by the Immigration and Naturalization Service, she was

1paroled' into the United States."

"Parole is a term of law which is specific to Cubans," Johnson said,

explaining that it stems from a provision of a 1966 law that allows Cubans

into the United States.  "One year and one day following that parole, they

are eligible for permanent resident status."

"In a legal sense, Cubans aren't granted political asylum," the acting

spokesman said.  "They're paroled into the United States.  Were she from

any other country, I think that the term would have been political asylum.

But it is an important distinction in the law because nationals from other

states are treated differently.  This is a provision of law in 1966 which

gave certain quick admission advantages to Cubans because of the specific

nature of the regime."

While he had no specific comment on Fernandez's action, Johnson noted that

"it just provides one more illustration of the lack of freedom and lack of

hope which pervade Cuba today."

Johnson said he did not know if Fernandez had any contact with U.S.

officials before she arrived in Madrid.  "I don't have any information on

the way she left (Havana) or how she arrived in Madrid," he said.

Asked if she was being "debriefed" by U.S. intelligence officials, Johnson

replied:  "I believe that not to be the case.  I think she's with her

private sponsors."  He declined to identify those sponsors.

"We're treating this as a private matter involving a private citizen.  It's

not a matter of state."  He added he was "unaware of any discussions

planned with the Cuban government through intermediaries or otherwise"

concerning the defection of Castro's daughter.

Fernandez is a long-time critic of her father's revolution and has called

Castro a "tyrant."  She wished to leave the island for years but could

never receive permission.

She was once married to a Mexican and wanted to emigrate with him to Mexico

but Cuban authorities turned down her request.  Eventually he left for

Mexico alone.

In recent years, she has been living quietly with her daughter in a

fashionable section of Havana.  Her mother, a supporter of the revolution,

lived nearby.

In April 1992, she told The Washington Post that she was last allowed to

leave the island in 1964 at the age of 8 when she visited Paris with her


"I dream of going back there, of going anywhere," she said in a conversation

at her home.  "But I'll never be able to leave, like a lot of other people


Later in 1992 she was quoted as saying: "What do I think about Cuba's

socialism?  I used to believe in it when I was very little. But now, Cuban

socialism is a dead-end street.  In my mind, I associate it with economic

collapse, with food shortages."

Fernandez, a former model, said she has not spoken to her father in years.

Her main memory of him is from her childhood when Castro would visit the

apartment where she lived with her mother.

As a teen-ager, the daughter repaid Castro's scant attentions by refusing to

use his surname.  Castro has never publicly acknowledged her as his