By Frances Kerry | Reuters
Miami - Cuban President Fidel Castro or someone sounding very much like him fell for a trap laid by Miami radio pranksters on Tuesday, thinking he was talking on the phone to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and abusing the callers when he realised he was being duped.
The radio station, Spanish-language station El Zol 95.7, delightedly and repeatedly broadcast the recording from its popular programme El Vacilon De La Manana (Morning Joker) in a city that is home to many anti-Castro exiles.
There was no immediate way of telling whether it really was Castro on the line, but to Spanish speakers familiar with the Cuban leader’s well-known voice it seemed to be him. There was no immediate reaction from government officials in Havana.
The Vacilon hosts, Enrique Santos and Joe Ferrero, used the same technique they used in January to catch Chavez on the programme, when they cobbled together real phrases spoken by Castro to make the Venezuelan leader think he was talking to his Cuban ally.
This time, they used phrases spoken in a speech by Chavez.
A presenter posing as a Chavez aide wound his way through a series of Cuban official switchboards - receptive because Chavez is a strong Castro admirer - with a story that Chavez needed to speak to Castro because he had lost a suitcase with sensitive documents on a recent trip both leaders made to Argentina.
Finally, Castro came on the line and listened to the story of the suitcase, apparently taken in by the brief statements from Chavez, and thinking the connection was too bad to hear much more from the Venezuelan leader.
The Chavez “aide” asked Castro if he agreed to help by getting his security detail hunt down the suitcase and the Cuban leader said: “I absolutely agree.”
“Do you agree with the shit on the island (Cuba), killer?” the Chavez “aide” asked, quickly adding, “you fell for it” and announcing he was on the Miami radio programme.
“What did I fall for, you shit?” said Castro. “What did I fall for, bastard?,” he said. He added a few more words of strong abuse before hanging up, as whoops of joy erupted at the Miami end of the call.