Fidel Castro in Miami
By Jeannie Rodriguez
Fidel Castro is attending Miami Dade College North Campus this semester.
He goes to class on Tuesday and Thursday mornings and has even visited the newsroom to inquire about the student newspaper. A green suburban sits in the driveway of his home with a license plate on the front bumper that reads “El Comandante.”
Fidel Castro in Miami?
Not that Fidel.
This Fidel Castro is a 19-year-old journalism student sporting a “fohawk” and Hollister-model good looks. He was born in Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach, loves his black cat “Midnight” and dreams of writing for People Magazine.
Castro has clearly carved his own identity but he can’t seem to elude his famous name.
“Sometimes people think it’s a joke,” Castro said. “Teachers will hesitate to call my name, or they ask for a nickname, but they always end up calling me Fidel.”
Castro, whose middle name is Denny, was named after his father, who was named after the Cuban dictator before he became a notorious figure in Cuban history. Ironically, Castro was born on August 13, the same day as the Cuban political figure.
“The question I get the most is ‘what do people say about your name?’ or ‘are you related?’” Castro said. “We’re not related. We’ve never even gone to visit Cuba.”
But some of the similarities are striking.
His uncle is named Raul Castro just like Fidel Castro’s brother.
Castro’s father -Fidel Castro- is an ex-truck driver who uses ‘El Comandante’ as his CB radio identifier and e-mail address.
But Castro admits to being a little oblivious to all the hype associated with his infamous name.
“When it comes to Fidel Castro, I’m really naïve,” Castro said. “I’ve never really paid attention to the news or buzz about him."
Castro may not know much about the dictator, but he does enjoy confusing the skeptics.
When Castro was a freshman at Barbara Goleman Senior High School in Miami Lakes, a group of seniors had him dress up as Fidel Castro during freshmen orientation week.
At his high school graduation, Castro wasn’t sure how the crowd would react to his name. He was expecting them to boo him off the stage. What he got, however, was a standing ovation.
Castro said he’s had strangers come up to him and tell him they recognize him from graduation. He met his best friend, Zuly Romero, 21, while working on their high school yearbook. Romero finds it fascinating how much attention Castro’s name commands.
“We can’t go anywhere where he doesn’t know someone,” Romero said. “He’s famous. There’s always someone that recognizes him because of his name.”
But Castro has also faced some problems because of his name.
Facebook won’t allow him to create a page using his name, Castro said. They asked him to provide official documents proving his legal name. He did but nothing has changed. Finally, in order to create an account, Castro had to put two O’s at the end of his last name.
Castro’s mom has had to deal with the criticism as well. One afternoon while trying to pick her son up early from school, a parent called her over.
“She told me ‘I hope that when you become a citizen, you change his name,” Maria Castro said. “Who says he’s not a citizen? He’s an American boy.”
Despite the negative association with his name, Castro said he embraces it.
“I like my name,” Castro said. “You’ll never forget someone named Fidel Castro. It’s like meeting someone named Adolf Hitler. Everyone will always remember me.”
Fidel Castro, 19, is a journalism and mass communications major at the North Campus. Castro is entering his first semester as a writer for the entertainment section of The Falcon Times.