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From: "PEDRO MARTORI"
Subject: The Opportunist Begins to Sing
Date: Thu, 1 Aug 2002 20:41:33 -0400
NNTP-Posting-Date: Fri, 02 Aug 2002 08:35:37 EDT
Organization: Bell Sympatico
This is a multi-part message in MIME format.
The Opportunist Begins to Sing
Date: Friday, August 02, 2002 5:50 AM
The following article was published in today's Wall St Journal. =
August 2, 2002=20
MARY ANASTASIA O'GRADY, EDITOR =20
A Former Castro Aide Comes To Miami the Hard Way
By MARY ANASTASIA O'GRADY
Thousands of escapees from Fidel Castro's island prison have washed up =
shores of south Florida over the years. But not many of them lived in
fashionable Manhattan in the 1990s and can include on their resumes a =
stint as chief of staff to Raul Castro.
The arrival last week of Alcibiades Hidalgo on a raft, after almost =
grueling days at sea, is newsworthy. As a former member of the central =
of the Cuban Communist Party and a former First Vice Minister of Foreign =
for Cuba, the 56-year-old refugee is a walking archive of what goes on =
Obviously any escape from Cuba is difficult and harrowing, given Fidel's =
ban" and the goons who enforce it. But the dictator would have had extra =
reasons for not wanting Mr. Hidalgo to get out of Cuba alive. "It was =
first attempt," he told me in an interview yesterday from Miami. "I was =
to leave for several years. But I was under very strong security watch."
He kept trying because "I was facing either jail or the possibility of =
sea with the possibility of reaching liberty. Now I have made it and I =
happy." He is divorced, but is concerned about family he had to leave =
including an eleven-year-old daughter.
Mr. Hidalgo was Cuba's representative to the United Nations in 1992 and =
His predecessor was the current head of Cuba's National Assembly Ricardo
Alarcon, which gives some indication of the heights in the regime that a
well-behaved and cooperative U.N. representative might someday reach.
But Mr. Hidalgo says he was fired because of "contradictions" he had =
government's foreign policy and activities at the mission. "The main job =
Cuban mission is to carry out illegal intelligence activities, to make =
and to steal any secrets it can. Diplomatic activities are just a cover.
"I objected to that and to the practice of condemning the U.S. at every =
was not in the interest of the Cuban people to do that. I wanted to try =
Cuban foreign policy more realistic."
I asked Mr. Hidalgo about the growing concern in the intelligence =
Cuba has the technology to conduct biological warfare and that it may be =
that information with rogue states. "It wouldn't be any surprise to me =
is passing on expertise and technology to other countries." He took =
of the casual leak to the media in recent days that the head of the =
Center for Engineering, Genetics and Biotechnology, Manuel Limonta, had =
ousted from his post and removed as a member of the central committee of =
Communist party. "It appears at this time that Mr. Limonta has been =
selling biotechnology to other countries," he says, "and that is typical =
Fidel. He will use him as a scapegoat."
Speaking of scapegoats brought to mind the famous General Arnaldo Ochoa, =
Castro put before a firing squad in 1989, allegedly for drug =
knew him in Ethiopia in 1977-78 during the Somali war. He was very =
very popular, very charismatic. He had also been involved in the Cuban
interventions in Venezuela, Nicaragua and Angola. He became bold and =
oppose these interventions because of the cost in Cuban lives. He began =
to other military leaders about his opposition. And then he was killed."
Mr. Hidalgo says that was a message to all Cubans: "It doesn't matter =
are, or how popular you are or what you have done, military or civilian, =
for it with your life if you challenge Fidel. It is impossible to =
change. There is only one voice. Nobody can discuss with Fidel =
As to Elian Gonzalez, the child who survived the death of his mother in =
escape, Mr. Hidalgo says that Fidel saw immediately that he could use =
in his favor. "Popular dissatisfaction with the government had been =
in that moment he took the country again in his own hands." As to why =
government cooperated with Fidel in returning Elian he says, "Obviously =
Clinton administration was making favors for Fidel, although I have no =
Mr. Hidalgo says he would like to see Cubans everywhere working now on =
transition that will occur after Fidel dies. Raul is his older brother's =
to inherit the throne. "But only his choice," not necessarily the one =
get the post. "He lacks the stature and the intelligence that Fidel has =
maintain power for 42 years. The transition power right now is within =
military and it all depends on what they do when Fidel meets his =
In an allusion to the effectiveness of Castro's anti-U.S. propaganda, he =
that, "The U.S. can help the process by showing the Cuban people that it =
will to go to Cuba and to become the owners of our sugar mills, our =
Fidel always tells them."
It might also speak out loudly for the country's political dissidents =
Hidalgo says he respects greatly. "I was warned to stay away from them =
would go to jail," he says. The movement he says is "not so weak as it =
But the repression keeps it from having any unity."
The country's "moral crisis" is one of its biggest problems, Mr. Hidalgo =
"You learn social values in school. Everybody learns to steal from the =
Everybody's parents steal from their place of work in order to survive. =
becoming a country of thieves."
That is partly a result of an economy, as he says, that is in =
"shambles." But it
is also, doubtlessly, a product of a corrupted system rotting from the =
Mr. Hidalgo's experiences are merely confirmation of what the Free World =
knows about totalitarianism. But they are valuable nonetheless. As a =
lobby with hopes of business opportunities gains momentum under the =
of Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd and other Castro admirers, reminders =
repressed and imprisoned population grow more valuable. What better =
a former high-level insider?
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