By Chuck Strouse
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The casual observer may wonder just why Castro chose this moment to release his little list and stir up el exilioanew. After all, with a veritable rainbow coalition of farm-belt Republicans and northeastern liberal Democrats now calling for a repeal of the U.S. embargo on Cuba, simply ignoring Miami would seem the wisest course of action.
However, just like Nixon, Castro is downright obsessed with his media coverage. In fact the bulk of Alarcón's press conference was given over to incensed attacks on New York Timesreporter Tim Golden. His crime? Golden had the audacity to personally meet with Castro in Havana, receive this list of 64 Miami terrorists, and yet still write a January 5 story on the 5 imprisoned Cuban spies back in the States that failed to attest to their "innocence." Yes, they were spying, Alarcón conceded, but as long as Castro's 64 remained at large in Miami, these men were just "patriots" acting in national self-defense.
Treading into Oliver Stone territory, Alarcón continued: "I don't want to fall into the trap of what Americans call conspiracy theory, but the truth is that it's very suspicious that [Golden's New York Times] article is published now when there is a concrete step to demand a new trial, when the stages of the appeal process have been announced."
Left unspoken was the implication that a fresh cadre of Cuban spies have replaced their imprisoned comrades in Miami, quietly keeping tabs on Castro's most wanted. But one hardly has to embrace Alarcón's "conspiracy theory" to limn the progress of Cuba's latest intelligence operation. Just turn on your shortwave radio. The same frequencies used in 1998 to broadcast coded messages from Havana to its undercover Miami crew are now back in use. Like Nixon heading into the 1972 election, Castro may be polling high, but he isn't above hedging his bets and playing dirty.