- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 8, 2003

Two Miami disc jockeys, known for making crank telephone calls, got through to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez by pretending to be Cuban President Fidel Castro.
In a segment known as "Fidel's Calling You," Joe Ferrero and Enrique Santos of the Spanish language-salsa radio station WXDJ, put in a call to Mr. Chavez on Monday.
By using disjointed clips of a conversation Mr. Castro had with Mexico's President Vicente Fox in 2001, they succeeded in fooling Mr. Chavez for almost two minutes.
The DJs then concluded the prank by calling Mr. Chavez "animal," "terrorist," "assassin" and by saying: "You are finishing off the Venezuelan people."
The hoax was first reported in yesterday's Miami Herald. Venezuelan Information Minister Nora Uribe told the Associated Press that Mr. Chavez had "caught on and hung up." Mr. Chavez is in the midst of a political struggle to hold on to the presidency, as Venezuela is crippled by strikes and protests by a growing opposition that demands his ouster. Mr. Castro is one of Mr. Chavez's closest friends and supporters.
"We still can't believe he fell for it. It was a big surprise for me and my partner," Mr. Santos said by telephone from Coral Gables, Fla.
The pair, who usually trick people in the Miami area into thinking the aging Cuban dictator is on the line during their "El Vacilon de la Manana" (The Morning Joker) show, tried a number of times without success on Friday, to bluff their way past Mr. Chavez's staff.
On Monday, Mr. Ferrero and an unidentified woman posed as telephone operators.
They called, saying Mr. Castro was on the line for Mr. Chavez. After saying that Mr. Castro was at a secret location and that Mr. Chavez could not return the call, the Venezuelan president got on the line.
"Hello, Fidel?" Mr. Chavez said, according to a transcript of the call published by the Associated Press.
"Yes. Did you receive my letter?" the bogus Mr. Castro said.
"Yes, I received everything fine," the Venezuelan president replied.
"I am ready to cooperate with you," came the reply in Mr. Castro's voice.
The Cuban-American disc jockeys kept Mr. Chavez on the line for nearly two minutes before yelling into the receiver to end the call.
Mr. Santos: "Hugo Chavez."
Mr. Chavez: "Yes."
Mr. Santos: "Enrique Santos and Joe Ferrero from Miami. Get out of Venezuela, [expletive], terrorist. You're finishing off your people. Animal, assassin, [expletive]."
Mr. Santos said that the station had been flooded with congratulatory telephone calls from listeners, but that the station's owner, Raul Alarcon, was "not very happy."
"We see Hugo Chavez as taking Venezuela down the same path as Fidel Castro took Cuba. He is a criminal. The owner got a letter about our very strong finish. But we asked [Mr. Alarcon] what he would say if he were in front of Fidel Castro. He was quiet for a minute and then he agreed with what we said," said Mr. Santos.

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