“I love Cuba!” bellowed comedian Jim Belushi last week from a Havana stage. The comedian who cashed-in on his comedian brother’s name was giving a stand-up routine as guest of honor of a regime whose “constitution” mandates two years in prison for any subject overheard cracking a joke about his host.
Jim Belushi was basking as Master of Ceremonies of Cuba’s Cigar Festival, which—while auctioning cigars to millionaire and billionaire businessmen from around the world-- raised over one million for the regime that jailed, exiled and murdered most of Cuba’s businessmen. Fidel Castro’s son Tony was chuckling from a ringside seat.
Cuba’s tobacco farmers and cigar makers all had their livelihoods stolen at Soviet gunpoint in 1960. The recalcitrant (people who balked armed at having their life’s work stolen by Stalinists.) were sent to firing squads, torture-chambers, forced labor camps and exile. Shortly afterwards Cuba’s Minister of Industries, Ernesto “Che” Guevara “nationalized” and “consolidated” Cuba’s cigar industry.
“Certainly we execute!” beamed Che Guevara at the UN in December 1964. “And we will continue to execute! This is a war to the death against our revolution’s enemies!” Many of these bullet-riddled enemies had simply resisted the armed theft of their family tobacco farms by Che Guevara’s KGB-trained gunmen.
As he chummed it up with regime apparatchiks in Cuba (where the average annual salary is $230) Jim Belushi was fresh from last month’s $38,500-per-plate Obama fundraiser in Beverly Hills where he shared the honors alongside George Clooney.
Note to Jim Belushi’s agent: Your client’s Cuba visit is probably providing more entertainment to many more Cubans, but in more private venues--and more onerously-- without proper compensation. To wit:
"My job was to bug visiting celebrity’s hotel rooms," says high-ranking Cuban intelligence defector Delfin Fernandez. "With both cameras and listening devices. And famous Americans are the priority objectives of Castro's intelligence," says Fernandez. “Most people have no idea they are being watched while they are in Cuba. But their personal activities are filmed under orders from Castro himself."
And according to some sources, Havana, given the desperation of its brutalized and impoverished residents, has recently topped Bangkok as the world mecca for child sex.
"He [Delfin Fernandez] has not only met some of the most famous men in the world," says the London Daily Mirror about the Cuban defector, "he's also spied on them and been witness to some of their most innermost secrets."
"When the celebrity visitors arrived at the hotels Nacional, Melia Habana and Melia Cohiba," says Fernandez, "we already had their rooms completely bugged with sophisticated taping equipment. But not just the rooms, we'd also follow the visitors around. Sometimes we covered them 24 hours a day. They had no idea we were tailing them."
Famous Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar was a special target for this bugging, but nothing of value for Castro came of it. "Everybody already knows I'm a maricon!" Almodovar laughed at Castro's blackmailers. "So go right ahead! Knock yourselves out!"
"Fidel Castro is a special connoisseur of these tapings and videos," Fernandez says. "Especially of the really famous."
And not even his closest "friends" are safe from this bugging. The best example is Castro's longtime "friend" Nobel Prize-winning novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez. In what appeared as a touching act of generosity and friendship, Castro gave his friend "Gabo" his very own [stolen] mansion in Havana.
"We had remodeled it right before," remembers intelligence honcho Fernandez, "and we installed more cables for bugging devices than for the normal electrical appliances. We taped everything! Fidel doesn't trust anyone."
Castro's top intelligence people would gather for the screenings of these tapes almost like Hollywood types for an upcoming movie. "Hmmmm, these scenes are more scandalous than anything in any of her movies!" Fernandez recalls a top intelligence officer chortling while watching the nighttime cavortings of a famous Spanish actress.
"Now it really seems to me, compañeros," the Castro intimate chortled as he looked around the room, "that this señora should be making more respectful comments about our regime, right?"
"When word came down that models Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss were coming to Cuba, the order was a routine one: 24-hour-a-day vigilance. Then we got a priority alert," recalls Fernandez, "because there was a rumor that they would be sharing a room with Leonardo DiCaprio. The rumor set off a flurry of activity, and we set up the most sophisticated devices we had."
"The American actor Jack Nicholson was another celebrity who was bugged and taped thoroughly during his stay in the hotel Melia Cohiba," states Fernandez, the man in charge of the bugging.
Some say the talent-challenged Jim Belushi shamelessly cashed-in on his brother’s name. Now he’s scrimping for gigs and accepting some that raise cash for a regime that jailed political prisoners at a higher rate than Stalin’s, murdered more of them than pre-war Hitler’s, and craved to nuke his homeland. Whatever works.
Humberto Fontova holds an M.A. in Latin American Studies from Tulane University and is the author of four books including his latest, The Longest Romance; The Mainstream Media and Fidel Castro. For more information and for video clips of his Television and college speaking appearances please visit www.hfontova.com.