"I made this proposal ... as a gesture for the pope and for all Christians," Castro said Sunday. The emphasis was on gesture - don't expect Christmas to come in 1998, added the Cuban leader; this is a once-off. What's more, many of the island's workers won't even notice, because not everyone will be allowed to spend December 25 at home with the kids. The Labor Ministry is expected to divide the holiday haves from the have-nots within the next few days. Perhaps Castro is perfect for the role of Scrooge, after all.
HAVANA: It could be that Fidel Castro is auditioning for the role of a reformed Ebenezer Scrooge, who wakes from his troubled sleep with time left to spread the holiday spirit. It's more likely, however, that he just wants to impress Pope John Paul II, who at the end of January becomes the first pontiff ever to visit this Caribbean island. That's the thinking behind Castro's unprecedented decision to make Christmas an official holiday in Cuba this year.