Kafka in a Guayabera

He may be across the ocean, but Czech Pres. Havel's Cuban-exile headaches have already begun


Of course, there's another threat on Cuba's horizon, one alluded to by Havel when he told the Washington Postthat rampant consumerism "seems even more apparent in the post-Communist countries" than in the West.

This past spring saw a diplomatic flap in Havana when senior U.S. ambassador Vicki Huddleston began handing out hundreds of radios to folks around the city. Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque blasted Huddleston's "subversion" at a public rally, declaring, "Our patience has limits. We are warning the American diplomats." Castro even hinted at revoking his nation's migration agreement with the United States if Huddleston continued acting as a sonic Johnny Appleseed. American reporters covering the affair assumed Castro was incensed over the notion of Cubans tuning in to the U.S.-run Radio Marti. Yet he could have been just as upset at their becoming Howard Stern fans.

On several recent visits to Havana, Kulchur was able to clearly receive a wide array of radio stations broadcasting out of Miami and the Florida Keys. Yes, the Howard Stern show came in clear as a bell, as did WLRN's mind-numbing talk-show host Joseph Cooper and "The Learning Experience" -- the daily dose of elevator Muzak which that outlet's management insists on calling jazz.

The thought of desperate Habañeros spinning their radio dial in search of some stimulating culture, only to land on NPR affiliate WLRN, raises the question: Haven't the Cuban people suffered enough?

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