It’s not been a good fortnight for Fidel Castro.
Apparently the Cuban president was duped recently by a couple of Cuban-American disc jockeys in Miami. The WXDJ-FM radio announcers got through Castro’s gatekeepers to get him on a phone prank — using the guise of an incoming call from his new best buddy, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. The “call” was actually snippets of a tape recording of Chavez.
Castro responded for a few minutes before catching on. That’s when the “conversation” turned obscene and Castro was called an “assassin,” which is no joke.
The phony call, however, was merely embarrassing. Earlier, Castro fell victim to his own hubris and Fidelismo, the results of which could be downright disastrous.
That’s when Cuba took control of the Spanish Embassy’s cultural center in downtown Havana. The government said the Iberian showcase had been used to aid anti-Castro dissidents.
The take-over came just two days after Castro had reprised The Music Man by leading hundreds of thousands of Cubans on marches to the Spanish and Italian embassies. The lemming-like conga lines were to protest European alignment with U.S. policies supporting Cuba’s pro-democracy dissidents.
Fidel’s folly was his 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. Even the appeasement crowd has its limits. Cuba’s fragile, post-Soviet-subsidy economy is now dependent on tourists. A lot of them are European.
Moreover, the lion’s share of tourism-related joint ventures are with Europeans. The Spaniards and the Italians are prominent, especially the former.
But Castro remains Castro. His knee-jerk reaction to affronts is to play Professor Harold Hill and rally the home front with a march. 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 assassination survivor, seemingly never runs out of lives. But he may be running out of feet to shoot.