30
Behold
a Pale Horse

ASTRO'S AIDE HAD NEVER seen the Cuban president so angry. "His face turned deep red," he said. * On April 1, 1980, another commandeered bus accelerated down Fifth Avenue and slammed into the Peruvian embassy. This time a guard was killed in the crossfire. Though the dissidents carried no weapons, and it was apparent that the man had been shot by other soldiers, he was immediately identified in the press as a hero of the revolution who had died in the line of duty. Since the beginning of the year four similar incidents had occurred at the Peruvian and Venezuelan embassies. In addition, a number of boats had been hijacked and forced to sail to Key West. Three days later a government spokesman in Havana announced that the guards on Fifth Avenue had been removed. Granma explained: "We cannot protect embassies that do not cooperate in their own security." The editors meant that the foreign ambassadors had refused to turn over the miscreants to the proper authorities. In conversations with Wayne Smith, Foreign Ministry officials hailed the move as a strategic master stroke that would teach Latin American diplomats the error of their ways. Castro had expected the incursion of a few dissatisfied Cubans to inconvenience the Peruvian staff. He made a mistake of huge proportions. 1

Initially, as Castro had anticipated, only a small number took advantage of the sudden and undreamed-of opportunity. Most Cubans feared that the announcement was some kind of trap, and that once they had

____________________
*
Castro had recently suffered a wrenching personal tragedy. Celia Sánchez had died after a long and painful struggle against the ravages of cancer. She had been his "gyroscope," people said. He did not fully recover his equilibrium for weeks.

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