Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC

Fidel Castro Sends Letter to Olympic Committee

FL160333 Havana Television Service in Spanish 0100 GMT 16 Jan 88

[Passages within quotation marks recorded]

[Text]  Manuel Gonzalez Guerra, president of the Cuban Olympic Committee
this afternoon reported that Cuba will not attend the 24th Olympic Games.
Alberto Juan Torrena, second vice president of that organization, then read
the letter from our Commander in Chief Fidel Castro addressed to Juan
Antonio Samaranch, head of the International Olympic Committee, which
underscores Cuba's position.

[Gonzalez Guerra]  "We had an Executive Committee meeting this morning
where we discussed Cuba's participation or nonparticipation in the Olympic
games.  We notified Antonio Samaranch at 1100 in Lausanne that the Cuban
Olympic Committee had decided not to attend."

[Juan Torrena]  "My dear friend Samaranch:  You are aware of our country's
efforts--in which I have personally participated--to make possible the most
successful 24th Olympic Games with both Koreas hosting them.

"When I wrote you on this matter in September 1987, I confirmed our desire
to do everything to avoid thwarting what still seemed possible at that
time.  In this regard, I addressed the authorities and people of the DPRK
and gave our opinion that all parties should agree, in one way or another,
on methods to hold the Olympics in an orderly manner; that they should
demonstrate their highest aspirations and be willing to pass up everything
that was not fundamental and would harm our principles.

"We realized that if we could not hold the Olympic Games satisfactory to
everyone, the Olympic spirit would take a great step backwards.

"We watched your activities with hope:  the visits of the International
Olympic Committee to the two Koreas, your meetings with their
representatives.  We learned with satisfaction that the DPRK was doing
everything possible and, in a laudable conciliatory effort, even expressed
its willingness to accept an unequal role in the Olympics.

"There was also another hope at that time:  That the complex and difficult
internal situation in the southern part of Korea would change.  A situation
arose in 1987 that was to be expected.  The protests of South Korea's
people shook the prevailing system and the regime, which was on its way
out, took all measures, even the most ferocious, sowing death in several
parts of the country so it could remain in power.

"The announcement of general elections as the result of the heroic struggle
of the people created the hope for a democratic opening which, on the one
hand, would provide an adequate climate for the Olympics and, at the same
time, would facilitate a better spirit of cooperation for the co-hosting of
the games.

"Unfortunately, it has not been so.  Such an opening did not occur.  Hopes
were dashed and nothing changed.  Repression again prevails; arrests
increase.  Mistreatment of the population has worsened and the people's
discontent becomes more intense.  No one can guarantee that the violent
popular demonstrations will not arise again in the middle of the Olympics
and, along with them, the fiercest repressive measures against the people.

"Actually, although I have no intention of mixing Korea's political
problems with sports, even our children in elementary school know that
bullets, tear gas, and massive repression of the people would not
constitute the healthiest and most honorable conditions for the Olympic

"Based on those negative circumstances, in our opinion, the Olympic Games
held under such risky conditions can only be guaranteed through the miracle
of a consensus of the internal political factors of the southern part of
Korea, which is currently engaged in an irreconcilable fight, for the
peaceful realization of the games and the co-hosting of the same by the two
parts of Korea.  Aware of the importance of the Olympic movement, we think
this possibility can still be examined and we hope such premises can be

"We act from deep convictions in stating our conduct toward the 1988
Olympics; we do not wish to contravene in any way the Olympic rules and no
one can accuse us of trying to sabotage the activity just because we
disagree with holding the Olympic Games under those conditions.

"The Olympic Committee and the Cuban Government have reached the agreement
that we will not register.  That is to say, simply, we will not commit
ourselves to participate in the games.

"Although we deeply regret this unavoidable decision, our people and our
athletes who are guided by deep ethical norms and by a great sense of honor
will not be discouraged and will continue to prepare for the 1992 Olympics
in Barcelona, if the foolish act of sanctioning us for maintaining a
dignified conduct is not taken.

"Nevertheless, we want to convey to you, dear friend Samaranch, that in
consideration of the great interest you have expressed in our
participation, if the miracle of holding secure games, without violence, in
Seoul becomes possible, and you, with your proverbial tenacity, accomplish
the heroic feat of having the games co-hosted, we would be willing to
reconsider our decision, if under those circumstances you and the
International Olympic Committee would decide Cuba's modest presence would
be useful.

"I ask you to consider that the moral principles of the people are more
important for Cuba than the emotions of the Olympic Games and the gold
medals that can be won.

"With best regards,

"Fidel Castro Ruz."