Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC

President Castro Addresses, Decorates Athletes

FL2409162488 Havana Cubavision Television in Spanish 0130 GMT 26 Sep 88

[Remarks by President Fidel Castro at ceremony in Havana's Palace of
Conventions to present the Sports Honor Medal to 173 outstanding athletes;
date not give--recorded]

[Text] We must not think of individual triumphs; we must think of
collective triumphs--the triumphs of the people, the fatherland.  Each one
of your medals belongs to the 10 million Cuban citizens.  Each one of your
medals belongs to the history of our country.  Each one of your medals
belong to the present and future generations. Those medals pinned on your
chests are as if planted in the heart of the people.  You have become, you
are examples for our pioneers, for our youth, for out adolescents.  You
will be examples for future generations.  What do we want out future
athletes to be like? We say today, justifiably, with all our reason and our
conviction:  We want them to be like you.

Now, my speaking was not on the agenda but I can't leave here without
saying a few words to you.  This is not the first time we met, we met
before and after the Pan-American Games.  A few days ago I had the great
satisfaction, the privilege, of getting together with the comrades of the
baseball team.

I feel this is a historic moment, not only because we have broken a record
of the most medals awarded in the shortest time. [laughter] I was asking, a
hundred and what?

It is a historic moment from the point of view of morale, honor, dignity,
the most profound patriotism and internationalism.  This is a ceremony and
an event that history will remember.  We had already said it.  We were not
surprised by the need to be absent from these so-called Olympic Games.
Perhaps you will understand us better if I were to report that the Olympic
Games had been organized at the Guantanamo Naval Base.  We would not like
it.  In fact, we would not like our brothers to attend those Olympics. In
this case, there really is no difference.  It was really a trick, something
manipulated, organized, orchestrated to hold the games precisely there in
that place, when there were some many other places in the world where the
Olympics could be held with honor.

It is one of the countries where the people suffer the most repression,
violence, oppression.  You have seen it.  Our people have seen it.  The
whole world sees it on television.  It is a repressive regime.  It is a
divided country.  It is a country in which hundreds of thousands died in a
war not many years ago.

There is no doubt that it was a political maneuver to try to perpetuate the
division of that country and the occupation of part of its territory.
Imagine what kind of Olympics they are.  They are being held there in the
shelter of the Yankee battleships, the Yankee Air Force, and Yankee
soldiers, and tens and of thousands of repressive policemen.  It is not
Yankee soldiers in the United States; it is Yankee Soldiers over there,
thousands of thousands of miles away.

The least I can say, the most elegant way I can say it, is that
participating in an Olympics under those conditions is no honor.

The people of the DPRK are an extraordinary people; a people with the same
characteristics as ours.  They are energetic, hardworking, disciplined, and
enthusiastic.  I know them.  I have had the opportunity to know them.  I
can assure you that they possess extraordinary qualities and virtues.  How
could we leave them to stand alone?  How could we do that in circumstances
such as these?  Brother do not forsake each other.  Friends do not forsake
each other.  I imagine that in the midst of the pain they feel when they
see everybody over there, our stance must be a big boost, a big moral
compensation for them.

In this case, it was not a matter of the absence of a country without a
sports history, without sports talent.  It was without a doubt, the absence
of a country with the most sports talent and most extraordinary sports
history among all the Third World countries.  You know, as a matter of act,
that we won as many gold medals at the Pan-American Games as all the other
Latin American countries put together.

Our people's act of solidarity with the people of the DPRK is, of course,
important.  It's symbolism is great.

And it is not that we failed to make an effort to find a solution to the
problem when it came up.  The problem came up and we made enormous efforts
to find a solution.  The only solution was to share the Olympics.  Not even
half and half, but to really share them.  There are extraordinary
facilities in the DPRK to hold events of this kind.   There are no tear
gas, clubs, or policemen repressing the people.  The people in the DPRK
are united.

I feel much would have been gained by it--they would have become true
Olympics--if the idea of sharing the games had prospered.  The Olympic
Committee accepted...[shifts thought] I talked to Samaranch [Jose Antonio
Samaranch, head of the International Olympics Committee]. I talked to a lot
of people in the committee.  I also talked to the officials of the
Pan-American Sports Organization.  They agreed in principle to go ahead
with some of the sports.  But, it was a joke, two or three sports events.
They did not really take the idea seriously.  They did not make a
determined effort by which all countries might have participated and by
which it might have been honorable for any country to participate in these
Olympics.  Egoism, a reactionary spirit, and political doings prevailed to
prevent a solution of this nature.

It's now been two Olympics that we have not attended for security reasons
Who said this?  When they didn't want us to go to Puerto Rico we took a
boat and sat there at the limits of the territorial waters and we told them
that if they didn't let us participate we would get there swimming, in a
boat, or in a lifejacket.  I imagine that the water polo players and the
swimmers would have gotten there first.  Even the baseball players would
have gotten there.  Perhaps there are those who don't know how to swim, but
I doubt that very much.

Anyway, there we were in Santo Domingo [as heard] in the "Cerro Pelado"
boat, which became very famous.  We said, let's go and we'll actually swim

When have we ever asked about security?  We have always participated
anywhere in the United States. However, this is not a matter of security.

In the past Olympics, the socialist countries made a decision. We learned
about if form the press.  We were discussing what type of common policy we
would adopt and we learned via the news agency cables that the socialist
countries had decided not to participate in the Los Angeles Olympics for
security reasons.  How could we argue against security reasons if that was
never an issue that prevented us from participating?  However, a very
powerful factor emerged--solidarity.

It truly would have been very ugly under those circumstances in which
socialists countries weren't attending the Los Angeles Olympics, if we had
participated.  As I then told sports leaders and the leaders of the Pan
American Games and U.S. sports leaders, including those who came to talk to
us:  It's not because of security reasons that we did not attend.  It's
because of reasons of solidarity with socialist countries.

Now there are more reasons.  It is an act of solidarity with a brother
country, such as the DPRK.  It is because of a reason as powerful as
solidarity, for reasons of dignity.  In th same way that it would have
looked bad for us to go to Los Angeles, forgetting the rest of the
socialist countries, I say it looks bad that all other socialist countries
[chuckles] to have gone to Seoul forgetting the brother revolutionary and
socialist country of Korea.  I say this very clearly and frankly.  History
will be in charge of recording these events.

Who loves sports more than we do?  What country has done more for sports
than Cuba?  Which country has not only done but is doing and will continue
to do more for sports than Cuba?  It hurts us that these things happen.

Surely, if we would have been able to participate we would have brought
back a few models.  Nobody doubts it.  But I believe our honor would have
suffered deeply.  We would have not felt very happy.  We would have felt
disloyal.  I do not know what we could say if a young Korean worker
approached us and asked: What kind of revolutionary are you when you went
to that country occupied by Yankees, to participate in an event under the
protection of Yankee cannons and soldiers?  We would have not been able to
lift our heads.  Some might be able to lift their heads because they can
stretch their neck and even engage in sports (y hacer ejercicio incluso].
But heads cannot always be held high honorably.  We have the right today to
life our heads with honor. [applause]

I believe that very few times outstanding athletes such as you have ever
received a higher decoration, a more valuable medal, and purer gold.
Someday when speaking of sports we are asked how many medals we won in the
so-called--which ones are they?--in the so-called 24th Olympiads, we can
say we won 173 gold medals in those so-called 24th Olympiads. [applause]

We could say even more.  We were the only ones who won gold medals because
mud is not gold.  I believe that under those conditions, when it is
believed that gold is being won; from the point of view of morale, honor,
dignity, principles, and the rights of the peoples which we cannot stop
representing, we would have been winning mud instead of gold.  I am certain
that you will have one more reason to feel proud as athletes, as patriots,
and as revolutionaries inasmuch as the athlete can never be at odds with
the patriot and revolutionary.  This is what has brought us up to here.
This is what has taken us to a top place; the honor, dignity, valor, and
courage with which our athletes struggle.  It was with this honor and
dignity that the comrades sent the telegram when they won the gold medal in
weights when they were competing against the traitor.

I read a report that says that a man plans to win a gold medal.  Perhaps he
will.  The only way he can win a gold medal is if there are no Cuban weight
lifters present.  Because if there was a Cuban weight lifter there he
cannot win.  Disloyalty and lack of principles do not prevail over the
honor and courage of a patriot and a revolutionary.  Our athletes take with
them something more than physical training.  They carry something more
than physical training.  They carry something inside. It is what our
baseball players had inside when twice in the ninth inning they did what it
appeared to be impossible, leave the Yankees behind; twice in a few days.
They did it with the valor, courage, dignity, honor, and revolutionary

We only use one drug.  Sotomayor was saying no drugs.  I say there is one
very important drug, revolutionary stamina, revolutionary pride,
revolutionary honor. This is our drug.  It helps us make supreme efforts
and helps us to carry out great feats if not how could have Sotomayor been
able to jump so high? I have stood next to a wall and done like this, and
have looked up to see how high was Sotomayor's jump.  It is incredible.

Our boxers, our baseball players--we struggled so much for baseball to be
included in the Olympics.  Of other sports--no sport is bad--but many other
sports were included.  A sport such as this one did not form part of the
Olympics.  But we will have our turn to give a good beating there.  If it
is necessary it will do so from the first inning.  We won't wait for the
ninth [laughter] even though it may be much more exciting.

Those factors, those principles have an influence.  The future of sports in
our country is terrific.  We are going to do more than what we have
already done.  We are already doing more.  We are taking it to the masses.
Because sports--this is the merit out athletes have.  They encourage all
citizens, they encourage all citizens [repeats] to practice sports.  Sports
is an instrument of health, well-being, and happiness for citizens.  We
want all citizens to engage in physical exercise and sports.  You can see
already tens of thousands of grandparents participating in sports.

The other day, during the race, hundreds of grandparents also formed their
contingent and took off.  It was a truly marvelous sight.  It was
incredible.  I looked at the crowd that took off and they were reaching the
avenue, they had gone up the hill at the avenue that goes by the Revolution
Square.  It was an impressive sight.  Thousands of people were running.
Many more were waiting.  There was still a big crows at the square when
those people were almost reaching 23d Street.

We plan to make a big effort.  I already told you that the Pan-American
installations are going to be built with or without Pan-American Games.
Some already are being built.  Ground breaking has already begun for what
are going to be big projects such as the Olympic stadium, the velodrome,
swimming pool complexes, multiuse rooms, tennis courts, rowing canals, in
sum, everything.  All the Olympic installations--yes, they can even be used
for an Olympic games--all the installations for the Pan-American Games are
being worked on and are going to be built.  What we want is for our people
to have those installations, for out athletes to have those installations
so that they can enjoy them.

There may be attempts to take them away from us but I doubt they will be
successful.  This does not scare us.  No, we are not going to be afraid of
the threats that they are going to take away the Pan-American Games from
us.  They were already taken from us once.  But now we have been designated
officially to host them.  We have adopted a position.  We have not violated
any rules.  We did not get enrolled.  We simply let the deadline expire.
We did not let ourselves be pressured by the deadline.

At the end, at the last minute the said:  We will admit them if they come
the day before the Olympics.  Indeed, had the athletes arrived a day before
they would have been admitted.  It was a big deal.  But we didn't get there
the day before, the same day, or the date after.  We have not violated any
rules.  We did not talk to anyone advising them not to go.  It can not be
said that we violated any of the famous rules.  We simply did not get
enrolled and did not participate.

All Latin American sports leaders know about the efforts we made to find
the solution to this complex and delicate problem.  They know it well.  I
doubt that they will find any argument to attempt to leave us without the
Pan-American Games.  This does not scare us a bit.  We are going to make
all the installations.

Pan-American Games can last 15 days but the sports installations can last
100 years, if they are properly maintained and are cared for.  This is
what matters to us, that our people have installations all the time and
that they have more and more sports installations.

The baseball comrades took advantage of the meeting we held the other day
to announce that they needed an installation.  We started to analyze it.
They needed a training installation.  If they go to a stadium, there is
only one field.  Those kinds of installations need at least two or three
fields and other facilities.  The baseball comrades were saying, and they
were right--baseball players, trainers, and coaches--that is we did not do
this we run the risk of staying behind because the Japanese, Italians,
Yankees, everyone already has this type of installation.  I promised them
that I would fight so that they would have that installation.  We really
did not know about the fact that they have had a project, a plan for a
long time.  I asked were should it be put.  I suggested a place.  These
plans need to be worked on and the conditions created so that after the
struggle we will have to get this field, then we can begin building it as
soon as possible.  This is very good.

It is true that sports is reaching incredible technical levels and
facilities are needed for this.  Our country is not a rich one but our
people are very hard working and we can get all these installations through
our own work.

Unfortunately, many Third World countries do not have sports facilities.
That is one of the things we brought up, even at the time of the Los
Angeles Olympics.  A few gentlemen there earned tens of millions of
dollars.  In fact, the U.S. Government collected tens of millions of
dollars.  What were they going to use that money not belonging to private
firms for?  The U.S. was going to build facilities in the United States.
We said that the money collected in the Olympics should be used to build
sports facilities in the Third World countries.

The Olympics nowadays is an event for rich countries, just like sports have
become activities of rich countries.  How many medals did the Third World
win in the Olympics?  Very few.  These countries have no sports facilities,
no trainers.  They don't have food for the people!  A high percentage of
the children grow up stunted because of malnutrition.  If they have no
facilities, no trainers, not even enough food, how can they produce
champions?  How can they win gold medals at the Olympics?  Many of those
Olympiads are opportunities for some very rich, very powerful countries to
show off their wealth.  The Olympics has almost become an instrument to
establish the theory of a superior race, or nations superiority to others,
or a certain people superiority to others.

I am convinced that if the people of the Third World possessed the
technology, the facilities, and the food, these powerful and rich countries
would win very few medals in the Olympics.  Very few!  If the countries of
Latin America, Africa, and Asia could participate on equal conditions--our
country is an exception in this, not because we are rich but because the
revolution assigned the resources we had and because we devoted a lot of
effort to sports.

We are an exception.  We have more than 20,000 physical education and
sports teachers.  More than 20,000.  How many does the Dominican Republic
have?  How many does Haiti have?  How many does Columbia have?  How many in
Peru, Ecuador, and the rest of the countries?

We have built thousands, tends of thousands of sports facilities of one
kind or another.  We have improved our population's health and nutrition
conditions.  We have a healthy people.  It would very hard to find an
underfed child in our country.  Very difficult!  it might be because the
parents neglected him completely.  Our doctors know of practically no
underfed children in our country, which they find in large numbers when
they go elsewhere.

Because of our revolution, our country has become an exception in relation
to all the other Third World countries.  That's why we are a force that
resists, that puts up resistance.  We are a force that competes with the
Yankees on an equal footing, despite the fact that they have 240 million
inhabitants and we have only slightly more than 10.  The number of medal
per capita won by Cuba in the Olympics exceeds the number won by the United
States many times over.

Unfortunately, thousands of millions of human beings who live in the Third
World have no change to practice sports.  They lack the conditions and
trainers.  When we started, we were in the same situation.  Now we have all
these resources, all this experience.  We have very expert people.  We have
more than 20,000 physical education and sports teachers, many facilities.
However, we do not stop at that.  We will keep at it. We will keep at it.
[repeats himself]

Cuba enjoys international prestige.  This stance adopted by Cuba makes
other respect Cuba because it is a country that has honor, dignity, and
principles.  Those who thought we were satellite or anything of the sort
have had to forget that for quite a while now.  We are a sovereign country.
We make our own analyses and make our own decisions.  Our country is
respected in sports terms, in political terms, in revolutionary terms.  It
is a country that fights.  It is a country that is not easily made the
victim of an arbitrary action or an injustice.

That is why I tell you that sports has a big future, a big future.  We are
building the facilities and I hope we will be able to use them at the
Pan-American Games, in the next Pan-American Games, or any other games in
this century or any other century.  That does not worry us.

The more time that passes; the more medals we'll win.  We certainly will
win more medals in the next Pan-American games than we did in the previous
games even though it may be difficult because there are several countries
that have resources--such as Argentina, Brazil, and  others, the large
countries--that are constantly making a greater effort in sports.  We are
assuming that we'll have rivals among the Latin Americans which will
require us to constantly make a greater effort.  I am sure, however, that
in the next Pan-American games, we'll win more medals than we did
previously.  That's the way it will be.

If one day, all Latin American countries have the same opportunity as Cuba,
then it will be more difficult to win medals because then we'll have to
lead in a Pan-American game that has 700 million inhabitants.  The day that
all those people, especially the Latin Americans, have the same conditions
that Cuba does, then we'll have to fight for the medal [chuckles] and the
number of medals we'll win will decrease.  However, as long as things
continue as they are, and I add, unfortunately; as long as situations such
as misery and exploitation continue for the Latin American people,--which
is the result of the pillage done by the large countries, the rich
countries--then we'll continue to win more medals each time.  As long as we
compete primarily with the United States, we will dispute each medal in
each location.  That's why I'm sure that our people will feel that the
medals you've received are their own.

We shouldn't think about individual triumphs.  We must think about
collective triumphs, the triumph of the people, the triumphs of the nation.
Each of your medal belongs to the 10 million citizens.  Each of your
medals belongs to the history of our country.  Each of your medals belongs
to the present and future generations.  It is as if those medals that you
have received on your chests were planted in the hearts of the people.  You
become... [corrects himself] You are examples for our pioneers, for our
youth, for our adolescents, and will be examples for the future
generations. How do we want out future athletes to be?  We say today with
all our might, with all our reason, with our full conviction:  We want them
to be like you. Fatherland or death.  We shall win! [applause]