Fidel’s European Folly

It’s not been a good fortnight for Fidel.

Apparently the Cuban president has been duped by a couple of Cuban-American disc jockeys in Miami. The WXDJ-FM radio announcers, Joe Ferrero and Enrique Santos, got through Castro’s gatekeepers to get Castro on a phone prank — using the guise of an incoming call from Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. The “Chavez call” was actually snippets of a tape recording of Chavez, a friend of Fidel’s.

Castro responds for a few minutes before catching on. That’s when the conversation turned obscene and Castro was called an assassin.

The phony call, however, was merely embarrassing. Earlier, Castro fell victim to his own hubris and Fidelisimo, the result of which could be disastrous.

That’s when Cuba took control of the Spanish Embassy’s cultural center in downtown Havana. Cuba says the Iberian showcase had been used to aid anti-Castro dissidents.

The take-over came just two days after Castro had led hundreds of thousands of Cubans on marches to the Spanish and Italian embassies. The marches were to protest European alignment with U.S. policies supporting Cuba’s pro-democracy dissidents.

The Fidel-led marches were Castro’s personal response to the European Union’s announcement that it would be reviewing its relationship with Cuba in the aftermath of the dissident crackdown and the execution of those who tried to hijack a ferry to Florida.

It’s one thing to rally the usual bussed-in extras to demonstrate against the U.S. — Uncle Scapegoat. But this is Europe. Cuba’s fragile, post-Soviet economy is now dependent on tourists. A lot of them are European.

More to the point, the lion’s share of tourism-related joint ventures are with Europeans. The Spaniards and the Italians are prominent, especially the former.

But Castro is Castro. His knee-jerk reaction to affronts is to rally the home front. This diverts attention from the real issue; in this case, those with the temerity and courage to question his failed, 40-something regime.

Castro, the ultimate CIA survivor, seemingly never runs out of lives. But he may be running out of feet to shoot.

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