Being Cuba’s ruthless dictator has its benefits, such as jet-setting around the world to secret destinations and European resorts while slaves back on the island are busily working to finance for your lavish lifestyle.
Raul Castro’s long trip to China raises questions about a secret stopover
A trip that takes one day on commercial jetliners took more than two, raising questions about a secret stopover
Cuban ruler Raúl Castro’s peculiarly long flight to China — at least two days, compared to commercial flights that take about one day — has unleashed speculation about a secret stop en route.
Chinese and Cuban officials signed eight agreements after a meeting Thursday between Castro and Chinese President Hu Jintao, including two memoranda that call for donations and interest-free Beijing loans to Havana.
But neither side commented on why the Cuban visitor took so long to arrive in China or made any mention of any stopovers on his way from Havana to Beijing.
The newspaper Granma, official voice of the ruling Communist Party of Cuba, reported Monday that Castro took off from Havana Sunday for a state visit to China and Vietnam, but did not give the exact time of his departure.
China’s news media reported that he landed in Beijing on Wednesday, indicating that he spent at least two days en route. U.S. commercial flights from Miami to Beijing, with one stopover, take a little more than 24 hours.
“Where was he,” Havana dissident Martha Beatriz Roque asked in a column. If he did make a stopover somewhere en route, she added, it must have been, like so many other things in Cuba, “a state secret.”
Italy’s Corriere della Sera newspaper reported in 2007 that Castro had just made a private visit to the Argentario golf resort in Tuscany, apparently as part of a visit to the Sicilian family of his daughter Mariela’s husband, Paulo Titolo.
“Almost every year, Raul arrives incognito in Italy to spend several days with his Italian relatives and three grandchildren, and later departs. The trips are private, cloaked in secrecy and seldom communicated to the authorities,” the newspaper added.
The report detailed his one-hour visit to the Argentario resort, “looking impeccable in a civilian tropical suit” and accompanied by four Cuban bodyguards and two Italian pilots of his helicopter.
“This is a charming place,” Castro was quoted as telling the resort’s owners after his chopper landed on the 11th hole. “You have done wonders. This is astounding. The greens have been designed in an extraordinary manner.”
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