What Set Off Castro?

After sentencing 78 dissidents and independent journalists to as much as 27 years in prison last week, Cuban President Fidel Castro has raised the stakes in his most severe crackdown in decades. Last Friday three men who tried to hijack a ferry to Florida earlier this month were summarily executed--jolting human rights activists already outraged over the imprisonment of the dissidents, accused by Castro of being in the service of the U.S.

What set off Castro's fury? Those close to his inner circle say he feels insulted by the U.S.--and unusually nervous. In hopes that the U.S. would relax its 41-year-old...

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