Saturday, December 24, 2005

Castro calls Rice `mad'

Posted on Sat, Dec. 24, 2005

Castro calls Rice `mad'
In response to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's meeting with a U.S. government commission designed to prepare for a democratic transition in Cuba after Fidel Castro, the leader called Rice `mad.'

From Miami Herald Wire Services

HAVANA - In an unusually harsh outburst, Cuban leader Fidel Castro Friday called U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice ''mad'' and used a vulgar epithet to describe her special commission on the island's transition.
It was the first time in memory the 79-year-old Castro, who has been unusually aggressive in his recent public pronouncements, used the crude but common vulgarism in public, two longtime monitors of the Cuban media said.
Castro has become ''increasingly cantankerous for the last four years,'' said Brian Latell, a retired CIA analyst on Cuba and author of After Fidel, a new book about Castro and his brother, designated successor Raúl Castro.
In recent years Castro has harshly insulted presidents Vicente Fox of Mexico, Fernando de la Rúa of Argentina and Jorge Batlle of Uruguay. Last week, a top aide to Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula de Silva said Castro had called him a pendejo -- literally a pubic hair but also an epithet for a sniveling coward.
''The danger is that as he becomes more isolated because of his declining health and his age, he's becoming more cantankerous and . . . the quality of his leadership is deteriorating,'' Latell said.
CIA doctors recently concluded Castro suffers from Parkinson's, The Miami Herald reported last month.
Added one U.S. intelligence community member who studies Cuba: ``Usually he has more elegant words at his command and doesn't have to lower himself to swear words like the one today.''
The communist leader's latest tirade against the United States was in response to Rice's meeting this week with a U.S. government commission designed to prepare for a democratic transition in Cuba after Castro.
''I am going to tell you what I think about this famous commission,'' Castro said, then using the barnyard epithet to describe the group to the Cuban parliament.
''In this context, it does not matter if it was the mad woman who talks of transition: It is a circus; they are completely depraved; they should be pitied,'' he added.
The attack followed Castro's comments on Thursday, when he called Michael Parmly, head of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, a ''little gangster'' for criticizing the regime in a speech this month.
Cuban officials initially said very little about Parmly, who arrived in Havana in September. But he apparently hit a nerve during a Dec. 10 gathering at his residence to mark Human Rights Day.
Speaking to a group that included dissidents, Parmly praised the opposition while accusing Castro's government of repressing its citizens and singling out as ''particularly disgusting'' the practice in which government supporters surround dissidents' homes and hurl insults.

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