The Miami Herald
Jun. 19, 2003

HELLO, FIDEL? Prank gets foul-mouthed response


  They did it again.

  Two Miami disc jockeys, who made international headlines with their prank phone call to Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez in January, say they played a similar practical joke on Cuba's Fidel Castro on Tuesday.

  In January, they pretended to be Castro to get Chávez on the line. This time, they pretended to be Chávez, Castro's close friend and protégé.

  The man said to be Castro spewed a few choice expletives when he learned the callers were really Enrique Santos and Joe Ferrero, hosts of El Vacilón de la Mañana on WXDJ-FM (95.7) El Zol, a Spanish-language salsa station.

  ''It was not the response we were expecting,'' said Santos, who was besieged by Latin American and European media on Wednesday. "It was the first time the mass media has heard him express himself like that.''

  There was no acknowledgement from the Cuban government that Castro had talked to the DJs. But Santos said he had no doubt he reached the man in charge. ''You could hear it in his voice,'' he said.

  Santos and Ferrero said they got through to the Cuban leader using a ploy similar to the one they used to play the practical joke on Chávez. They got the Venezuelan leader to believe he was speaking with Castro by using pieces of a tape of the Cuban's voice.

  On Tuesday, it was Castro's turn to be taken in. The irreverent DJs played snippets of their conversation with Chávez, leading the call's recipient to believe that Chávez was indeed waiting on the line.

  That allowed Ferrero, who used a Venezuelan accent to pose as ''Lieutenant Camilo,'' to penetrate several layers of secretaries and aides and finally be connected to the man said to be Castro.

  Ferrero pretended the call was an emergency, saying that Chávez had misplaced a suitcase containing sensitive documents during the leaders' recent trip to Argentina for the inauguration of President Néstor Kirchner.

  ''We freaked out,'' Santos said. ``This was one call and we got through. We had butterflies in our stomachs.''

  After a confusing, four-minute back-and-forth in which the DJs covered their ruse by saying there were problems with the satellite line, Santos broke in to reveal that they were phoning from a Miami station and called Castro a murderer.

  From the other end came a string of profanities.

  Damian Fernandez, professor of international relations at Florida International University, called the prank "silly.''

  ''It's not a very good image for Miami,'' he said.