Castro's Daughter Testifies Before Senate Committee

By Jim Burns | July 7, 2008 | 8:07 PM EDT

( - The daughter of Fidel Castro, Alina Fernandez, told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday that 6-year-old Cuban boat refugee Elian Gonzalez should remain in the United States.

Fernandez thinks that the Gonzalez family is being used by the communist Cuban government.

"We all recognize the conflict between a child's natural right to be free and to be with his family, even as we see in this case that the family is being used and manipulated by the Cuban government for political purposes and to generate anti-American sentiment," Fernandez said.

Fernandez also told the committee that she is unable to understand how the United States can allow a dictator to manipulate and take advantage of the United States' laws and use them for personal, political gain.

"In Cuba," Fernandez said, "the terms 'parental rights' or 'freedom of expression' are meaningless, and it's truly absurd for such a state to attempt to impose its own lawless views on your legal system."

Fernandez called on the Senate not to allow her father, Fidel Castro, to emerge victorious in the Elian Gonzalez case.

"Ladies and gentlemen of the Senate of the United States government, with all due respect, you cannot allow this unilateral victory on behalf of a dictator. You cannot bend to the wishes of dictator without, in any way, addressing the larger issues of safe-guarding the rights of all Cuban families.

"How can it be that anyone could so forcefully seek the return of this boy, who has already suffered too much, to Cuba, and ignore the many other Cuban families who remain forcibly separated from their loved ones by the whims of this dictator," Fernandez said.

Fernandez explained what she thinks the consequences would be if Elian were returned to Cuba.

"If this child is returned to Cuba when he is 11-years-old, he will be taken from his family and placed in a school where he will be allowed to visit them three days a month. This is the way the Cuban government defines the term, 'parental rights'," Fernandez said.

Fernandez also emphasized that the Elian Gonzalez case is part of the tragedy that has befallen Cuba under her father's dictatorship.

"We cannot pretend to be self-satisfied in thinking we know the answer as to what should become of Elian without attempt in some way to resolve the situation of the many divided Cuban families, families divided due to the intolerant, repressive nature of the current dictatorship," Fernandez said.

Fernandez herself escaped from Cuba in 1993 because she said she had no other choice - either dictatorship or freedom. She now resides in Spain.