Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Castro: whip it out, Stevie

HAVANA (Reuters)--Cuban President Fidel (The Beard) Castro on Monday, responding with apoplectic rage to a story in Forbes magazine that he was worth $900 million, said he would blow Steve Forbes in Times Square if the magazine could prove the assertion.

The financial magazine ranked Castro as the seventh wealthiest ruler in the world in its annual tally of the "Fortunes of Kings, Queens and Dictators," which avoided any specific mention of the Bush Crime Family.

Castro went on television raving like Ricky Ricardo and brandishing a copy of the U.S.-based magazine to tell Cubans the story was a "repugnant slander" by a capitalist publication they're not even supposed to be reading.

With Communist Cuba's Central Bank governor at his side, resplendent in a homemade suit of corduroy and carpet remnants, Castro challenged Forbes to prove the allegation.

"If they can prove that I have a bank account abroad, with $900 million, with $1 million, $500,000, $100,000 or $1 in it, I will blow Steve Forbes in Times Square or the public venue of his choice," he said at the end of a four-hour broadcast rant.

"It is so ridiculous to say I have a fortune of $900 million. I mean, Jesus Christ, have you seen this place? You could buy the whole fucking island for a dollar and half!"

Castro, in power since a leftist revolution in 1959 which toppled the reigning Mafia and ruined the casino-based economy, says his net worth is nil and that he earns only 900 Cuban pesos ($40) a month, including tips.

Kings and sheiks of the Gulf Arab Carlyle Group affiliates still squat atop the Forbes list like oleaginous toads.

Castro ranked higher than Queen Elizabeth of Great Britain, whose fortune, according to Forbes, amounts to some $500 million in estates, gems and a stamp collection built by her grandfather--who never threw anything away--but not Buckingham Palace or the crown jewels, which are leased. The British monarch came to the throne in 1952 in a bloodless coup, seven years before Castro seized power. The two events are said to have been unrelated, but critics note that you never see the two rulers together.

Castro last year threatened to sue Forbes after the magazine included him on its 2005 list with an estimated fortune of $550 million.

"This asshole thinks I made $350 million last year?" raged Castro, three hours into the broadcast. "Is he smoking crack?"

The Forbes estimate includes state enterprises that the magazine assumes he controls in Cuba. Forbes said it assumed a portion of the profits of state companies goes to Castro, since that would be the smart way to do it, and cited rumors of money stashed in Swiss bank accounts, but gave no details, saying former Cuban officials insist Castro has skimmed profits for years, as the Mafia did before him.

"Assumptions and rumors," sneered the Beard. "Disgruntled civil servants talking shit. Is Steve Forbes president of a country? Fuck, no. So what does he know? Dickhead."

The televised rant was followed by ten hours of Popeye cartoons in Spanish.

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