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 Wednesday, 8 January, 2003, 02:57 GMT
Chavez falls for Castro hoax
Fidel Castro (L) and Hugo Chavez
Castro and Chavez have strong personal ties
A radio station in the American state of Florida has played a practical joke on President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela with a hoax phone call he believed was from his friend and ally, the Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

Two presenters at Radio El Zol, in Miami, called Mr Chavez on a private line and used taped extracts of Mr Castro's voice to make him think it was the communist leader himself on the phone.

Joe Ferrero and Enrique Santos
Ferrero and Santos fool people by playing tapes of Castro
Mr Chavez initially believed he was speaking to Mr Castro, but he hung up shortly after the radio hosts revealed their identity and launched a tirade of accusations and insults against the Venezuelan leader.

The presenters, Joe Ferrero and Enrique Santos, run a regular slot on their morning chat show called "Fidel's on the phone for you".

They try to fool their victims by playing them recordings of the Cuban leader's voice, made from a private conversation with Mexican President Vicente Fox which was released last year.

Meaningless banter

Ferrero said he and a colleague bluffed their way past Mr Chavez's aides and called the president himself with their recording at the ready.

"Did you receive my letter?" Mr Castro's voice asked.

"Yes, I received everything fine," Mr Chavez replied.

After several minutes of meaningless banter, Mr Castro's disembodied voice asked: "What day is it today? Tuesday? Wednesday?" Shortly afterwards, Santos cut in to say they were calling from Miami and shouted expletives at the Venezuelan leader.

At this point, Mr Chavez hung up the phone.

Miami is well known as the home of a large community of Cuban exiles from the Castro regime. It also has significant numbers of Venezuelan migrants.

Mr Chavez leads an increasingly polarised country, with his opponents entering the sixth week of a general strike aimed at removing him.


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08 Jan 03 | Americas
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