by Marcelo Fernandez-Zayas

Washington, D.C. January 18, 2001
Bilingual Edition: English-Español.

Sirhan Sirhan, the assassin of Robert F. Kennedy was a fan of Fidel Castro. Files released from the FBI show this fact. Sirhan and Lee Harvey Oswald, the murderer of President John F. Kennedy, had in common their admiration for the Cuban dictator. Sirhan is in jail in California.

Q. Miami. How could it happen that the FBI, which was watching the Castro spy ring in Florida did nothing to prevent their actions?
L.R.R. Miami, FL.

A. In this case the National Security Council had to give the green light to the FBI to stop this group in its plans. Some times the apparent inaction of the FBI is motivated by the protection of its sources. The case of the downing of the planes of Brothers to the Rescue, now in trial in a Florida court, is very complex. We will have to await judicial developments to reach a conclusion. The most complicated scenario would be to name Castro as a defendant in the case for the death of the pilots. However, I doubt it will happen.

Q. How many brothers and sisters were in Fidel Castro's family?
L.M. San Juan, PR

A. Here is the list. Pedro Emilio, Lidia, Angelita, Ramon, Raul, Juanita, Emma and Agustina. Pedro Emilio and Lidia died. Juanita lives in Miami and Emma lives in Mexico City.

Age. On June 3, 2001, Raul Castro will be 70 years old and on August 13, Fidel Castro will be 75.

Arms. Cuba is considered to be the best-armed country in Latin America. However, there is a catch to that. The former Soviet Union sold Castro all the World War II junk they could scrape together. This included tanks and automatic weapons manufactured in the 1940's, as well as some long-range artillery used in Russia against the invading German troops. The Cuban Air Force is composed mostly of of obsolete planes. In large part, the Air Force is grounded for lack of spare parts. Most of the planes were built in the 1960's and 70's.

Missing money: Interior Minister (Intelligence Services) Jose Abrantes Fernandez was jailed in Cuba in 1989, accused of corruption. He died shortly thereafter of a heart attack. His jailers were interested in one thing: where was Abrantes' money hidden? More than a decade later, the Cuban Directory of Intelligence (DI) is still looking for the millions of dollars that are missing.

Race: Many Cuba-watchers predict racial unrest in the island after Castro departs. At the beginning of the new millennium, Cuban blacks, in spite of being a 62 per cent majority of the population, are under-represented in the power structure. Blacks in Cuba feel that American blacks, and particularly the Congressional Black Caucus, do not support them. The majority of dissidents in Cuba are of African descent.

Ballet: What ever became of the famous Cuban ballerina, Alicia Alonso?
K.O.A. Dayton, OH

A. Alicia Alonso, now 70, is almost blind. She lives in Cuba and Spain. She is a fervent sympathizer of Fidel Castro.


Foreign Aid: The biggest help Cuba is giving to Venezuela is not in the field of medicine, but in intelligence gathering. Sources in Venezuela inform us that Cuba is training Venezuelan civilian and military officials in security, espionage and international communications. However, the Venezuelan military are beginning to show discontent with the new surveillance measures set forth by their Cuban trainers.

Diplomatic Dust-up: Fidel Castro ordered the Cuban press to attack and embarrass Spanish diplomats in Havana for their public celebration of the festivity of the Epiphany - The three Wise Men - that included the tradition of throwing candies to Cuban children. Voices in Madrid explained this official complaint as a retaliation for the energetic actions of the Spanish Coast Guard in theis search for drugs on Cuban and other vessels bound for Spain coming from the communist island. When apprehended, it was a sad day for the Ukrainian and other crews from former Soviet regions found to be carrying (tons) of high-quality cocaine in their containers manifested for northwest Spanish ports.


Marcelo Fernandez Zayas

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