Alina Fernandez Revuelta, the daughter of former Cuban President Fidel Castro, told her revolutionary story on September 30 as the keynote speaker at the Oilseed and Grain Trade Summit in Minneapolis.

“In my life, everything began with something called revolution,” Fernandez said.

Agriculture in Cuba

In 1959, in order to reinvent agribusiness in Cuba, Fernandez said Castro created the National Institute for Agrarian Reform, for which Che Guevara was the first leader.

Fernandez said the plan was flawed; Cuba needed to diversify production and new crops were necessary. Fernandez said 46 percent of the land was owned by 1.5 percent of the population, and the land was not used in the right way. Farmers who received land were forced to give the state everything they grew, and they could not sell to individuals. There was no place to store grain and no way to transport it, so food rotted and rationing began.

“A revolution becomes a dictatorship when the state owns your personal life,” Fernandez said.

Modern-day changes

She says that now, under the rule of her uncle, Raul Castro, there have been some small changes. He allows small enterprises to start up, and entrepreneurs are flourishing in Cuba.

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“Just now things are starting to change and some common sense is getting into the Cuban system,” Fernandez said.

In Cuba, she said, farmers now can set their own prices and regulate their own markets. However, she said there is still room for improvement and that the Cuban economy needs stimulus.

“Cubans have been the victims of political failures, and now it’s time for a change,” she said. “Everything in Cuba is lacking right now.”

Fernandez also told the story of how her parents met, when Castro was in jail in Cuba and her mother, Natalia Revuelta Clews, wrote to him after she became involved in his political movement.

“I think their love began this way,” Fernandez said.

Through anecdotes, Fernandez described her life growing up in Cuba as the child of the revolutionary leader. She escaped Cuba in 1993 and now lives in the U.S. and is critical of the Cuban regime.