In a few short weeks, the world's eyes will turn to Havana as a powerful but highly controversial leader with millions of devout followers lands to shake hands with Fidel Castro. No, no, not the pope -- he's not coming until sometime this spring. We're talking about Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the dour Iranian leader who announced this morning that he's taking a break from designing "Islamic" women's fashions to pay a visit to Cuba and Venezuela in January.
We can only imagine the fun Fidel, Hugo and Mahmoud will have while kicking around the American oligarchy and comparing notes on living under international sanctions.
Ahmadinejad will actually make a four-nation tour of left-leaning Latin countries in the second week of January, his office says.
He'll start in Caracas to powwow with Chavez, one of his few enthusiastic supporters in the Hemisphere, and then head to Nicaragua for the swearing-in ceremony of former Sandinista Daniel Ortega, who recently won reelection.
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Ahmadinejad then jets to Havana for cafecitos with Fidel and co., before ending the trip in Ecuador.
Iran and Venezuela have grown close in recent years as both fall farther from favor in the U.S.; this past spring, the Islamic republic made headlines by announcing plans to help Chavez build rocket-launching bases on a northern Venezuelan peninsula.
Ahmadinejad doesn't have quite as tight ties with Cuba, but you can bet he and Castro will have plenty to commiserate about.