Friday, October 2, 2009

Flashback: Fidel Castro strolls through Old Havana

Then-Mexican President Vicente Fox visited Cuba in February 2002.
Fidel Castro listened as Fox spoke.
The event appeared to be over, but the fun was just beginning.
Fidel Castro and Fox suddenly took a jaunt through Old Havana. I fired away with a little Sony point-and-shoot.

Joining Fox was Marta Sahagún, his spokesperson. He had married her in July 2001, just seven months earlier.
The crowd seemed to grow as the entourage moved through the narrow streets.
Some people watched and took pictures from balconies.
It had to have been a challenge for Castro's security personnel.
City Historian Eusebio Leal, in the blue suit, joined the two presidents.

My office in Havana was on the fifth floor of the Lonja de Comercio building, above left. The Associated Press offices are on the sixth floor.

All smiles

Fox grinned as the walking tour of Old Havana ended. But the following month, he and Fidel Castro were at odds. As the story goes, Fox called Castro and instructed him to limit his presence in Mexico while attending the International Conference on Financing for Development in Monterrey.
Fox told Castro to give his speech, eat his meal and get the heck out of there without launching into a big speech criticizing the U.S. government.
Castro called Fox a traitor and released a tape of the phone call, embarrassing the Mexican president.
It was a strange episode. I'll never understand how Fox thought he could get away with telling one of the world's most loquacious leaders to keep his comments brief.

The VIPs sped away in Mercedes.

Along the Malecon's Fidel Castro page

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