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HavanaJournal.com: Cuban Americans

Rumors of Castro’s death sweep Miami-Dade—again

Posted January 17, 2004 by publisher in Cuban Americans.
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Miami Herald Staff Reports

Uncorroborated rumors that Cuban President Fidel Castro had died or suffered a stroke buzzed around Miami-Dade County on Friday, with anxious callers inundating police departments, media outlets and exile groups.

‘‘We’ve gotten hundreds of calls, mostly from the media, but also from our own officers and some members of the public,’’ said Miami-Dade police spokesman Randy Rossman. “At this point, we are not mobilizing anyone for anything special at this time.’‘

The latest rumor—something that has occurred frequently over the years—appear to have been spawned from comments published Wednesday from Luis Eduardo Garzon, the leftist mayor of Bogota, Colombia. He said that Castro appeared to be ‘‘very sick’’ during their talks in late December.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez met with his friend Castro in Cuba on Wednesday, Cuban state television reported, without offering details of the visit.

One senior exile community leader said he was contacted by a CIA official Friday to ask what he knew about it.

A foreign correspondent in Havana took a precautionary drive past Castro’s offices in the Palace of the Revolution Friday afternoon and reported that all seemed normal.

Officials at the Cuban American National Foundation said many of the 100-plus callers who phoned their Miami office said they saw or heard about something on TV that suggested Castro might have suffered a stroke or worse.

‘‘It’s a rumor that started yesterday,’’ CANF executive director Joe Garcia said Friday afternoon. “It’s wishful thinking. I don’t have anything on it. But it’s gotta be right some time.’‘

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