Thu Nov 28, 2:28 AM ET Cuban leader Fidel Castro reacts Thursday Nov. 28, 2002 as he is told that he delivered a 3-and-a-half hour speech at the meeting of the anti-ALCA meeting (ALCA, the Spanish acronym for Free Trade Agreement for the Americas) in Havana, Cuba. (AP photo/Jose Goitia)
A Caribbean Terror - Does Castro have biological weapons? *** Is Fidel Castro busy cooking up viruses in Cuban labs to share with Islamic fundamentalists? To the pro-Castro lobby in America this is nothing more than a crackpot conspiracy theory devised by Miami's right-wing extremists. But to some reputable intelligence experts, the case is not so open and shut. It would be alarmist to warn of an impending attack, but it would be irresponsible to ignore some disconcerting signals and not remain vigilant.
Exhibit A in the case is Castro's warm relationship with sworn enemies of the U.S. In May the Cuban dictator went to Iran, which the U.S. labels as the world's most active supporter of terrorism. He was received by the "supreme leader," Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who declared that "U.S. grandeur can be broken," and that if it is, "it will be a service rendered to mankind and even the American people." Not to be outdone, Castro told the Iranians, according to the Associated Press, that the U.S. is an "imperialist king" that "will finally fall, just as your king was overthrown." Other AP reports said that the maximum leader, as Castro calls himself, received an honorary doctorate from a Tehran university in recognition of his struggle against the U.S. Upon his departure, he declared that he had made new friends and left "with optimism about future ties."
In July Castro sent his close confidant Rodrigo Alvarez Cambras--a congressman and the head of the Cuban-Iraqi Friendship Society--to Iraq as an envoy. According to BBC reports from Iraqi TV and Iraq Radio in Baghdad, Alvarez Cambras met with Saddam Hussein to convey a "verbal message" on behalf of Castro and also with Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz. His meetings were boilerplate Fidelismo: Down with Yankee aggression and up with solidarity with Iraq. During an April visit he had included commentary on the Middle East. "Condemning the Zionist crimes against our people in Palestine, Cambras described them as Nazi crimes," reported the BBC, monitoring the Iraqi News Agency.***
December 2000 - Fidel, Saddam and Hugo --An improbable but growing friendship of three military revolutionaries*** The Castro-Hussein-Chávez connection is anti-American and anti-capitalistic, but not in an ideological way. What matters to the three is domestic power built upon a base of nationalism that they believe legitimizes their policies In a way, this bizarre trio represents the rebirth, a half century later, of the kind of nationalist populism spawned by General Juan Perón in Argentina and Gamal Abdel Nasser in Egypt. Mr. Castro and Mr. Saddam gained power through armed revolutions; Mr. Chávez, a paratroopers' lieutenant colonel, was democratically elected in 1998, after serving time for trying to overthrow the government in 1992.
Mr. Chávez is the most intriguing new leader to emerge in Latin America since Mr. Castro - and he is the lynchpin between Mr. Castro and Mr. Saddam. Although Cuba had been sending doctors and health workers to Iraq for years, there had not been any major contacts between the two countries until Mr. Chávez appeared on the scene. This fall, Mr. Chávez became the first democratically elected foreign head of state to visit Iraq since the Gulf War, ostensibly to invite Mr. Saddam to a summit of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. But it also was an in-your face gesture toward the United States.***