Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC

Castro Grants Interview on Sports

FL2104225289 Havana Television Service in Spanish 0000 GMT 21 Apr 89

["Exclusive" interview with President Fidel Castro by unidentified reporter
at Havana's Sport City coliseum, date not given--recorded]

[Excerpt] [Passage omitted] [Castro] I was told the competitions are going
to be tough, although the Fajardo [University] has the reputation of being
our best institute for athletic training.  However, I was told there are
other schools that are pretty advanced in sports.  I was told about one in
Pinar del Rio.  I think it is very good in baseball.  Other schools are
good in other sports.  Of course, I did not know how they were going to
solve that problem.  However, despite everything and despite the fact that
Fajardo has entered very good athletes in the event, it looks like the
competitions will be very tough.  That was good news to me.  This shows
that sports are being developed in the rest of the universities.  Let's
see, let's see how...

[Reporter, interrupting] Make your remarks for the newscast.  We are going
to carry it everyday in the sports newscast.

[Castro] What are you going to carry?

[Reporter] The sports events news.

[Castro] At what time?

[Reporter] The sports newscast, commander, every day at 1910.

[Castro] I have the bad luck that at that time I am always in a meeting,
doing something, or receiving a visitor.  This is why many times...[changes
thought] I like television but I cannot watch it.  I very seldom can see
the newscast, very seldom.  I make the effort.  Sometimes, if I go from one
office to another and I see the newscast is on, I stop to watch it.

[Reporter] Well, we were talking about baseball a while ago.

[Castro] So, your newscast is at 1910.

[Reporter] On Tele-Rebelde at 1910.  What can you tell me about baseball?
You were telling me...

[Castro, interrupting] I was not saying anything.  You were the one who was
asking me and was trying to make me talk about baseball.  Well, I was
joking and said:  I don't want to know about baseball because I am from
Oriente.  In any case, I saw some final games of the other one.

[Reporter] Of the national championship?

[Castro] Of the national championship.  I believe it was very tough, it was
interesting.  The same thing happens to me with baseball but I can see a
double header sometimes when I have a free Sunday afternoon.  I was told
today that they are going to play there during the weekend.  I believe you
were the one who was telling me about it.

[Reporter] Serrano and Havana City at the Guillermon Stadium.

[Castro] I said, let's hope there aren't as many deaths as in England.

[Reporter] Not at all, you know that the hero city is not characterized by

[Castro] Let's hope there is not a single injured one because we cannot
take the passion of sports and turn it into violation of discipline.  I
believe that all our people and all of those who really love sports are
bothered very much when there is some kind of indiscipline, when an
incident takes place.  I believe it is not in line with our revolutionary
culture.  It is not in line with our norms that those shameful conflictive
spectacles take place.  This doesn't mean that everybody is educated
enough.  We still have a ways to go to have a completely educated public.
I believe it is much more educated than...

[Reporter, interrupting] With more culture, with more sports culture.

[Castro] With more culture than what is seen in other places.

So regarding baseball, well, I have news:  I read about it once in a while,
and I ask about it.  I have been told that Havana was three games ahead,
that the ones from Pinar del Rio had lost their chance, that the ones from
La Villa could fight.  In sum, I know about all that.

[Reporter] You are very well informed considering that you do not watch the
sports newscast.

[Castro] I understand Las Villas won yesterday but I believe Havana also

Tell me something, how many games are left?

[Reporter] There are...[rephrases] I can tell you that we are in the third
round, in the fifth game.

[Castro] How many rounds are there?

[Reporter] Three, this is the last one.  Eighteen games are left.

[Castro] So, the ones that are at the bottom do not have much chance.

[Reporter] No, none.  I believe that Las Villas and Havana...

[Castro, interrupting] How many games ahead is Havana?

[Reporter] Two-and-a-half games over Las Villas.

[Castro] Are there any games left between them?

[Reporter] The last one in Jatibonico.

[Castro] Three?

[Reporter] Three.

[Castro] Well, how is Las Villas pitching?

[Reporter] Young pitchers have responded very well, commander.

[Castro] Or do they have better hitters?

[Reporter] Much more.  Havana City has better pitchers.

[Castro] Why is there so much expectation on the games in Oriente, because
Havana is going to play against the ones from Oriente?

[Reporter] Against Serrano.  It is a classic in the all-star games, no
matter their standing.

[Castro] When is it going to be, on Sunday?

[Reporter] On Saturday.  In addition, Serrano has a chance.  If Serrano

[Castro, interrupting] But wait a minute, this is important because I
imagine that the ones from Las Villas may be very interested for...

[Reporter, interrupting] Serrano to sweep.

[Castro] For Serrano to sweep.  Well, how are the Havana pitchers doing?

[Reporter] They are doing well because Valle had the cast removed from his
arm.  They said he had a sprain.

[Castro] What happened to Valle?

[Reporter] They said he had two sprained fingers.

[Castro] It was his fingers and not his arm.

[Reporter] No, but apparently this was not the case.  Arocha already
traveled today.

[Castro] How did it happen?  Did it happen while he was playing?

[Reporter] He told the press that it happened when he threw a slider
[preceding word in English] but apparently this was not the case.

[Castro] So it wasn't the muscle, it was the finger?

[Reporter] No, no, it was these two fingers. [Reporter shows two fingers.]

[Castro] That is less serious, is it not?

[Reporter] Less serious.

[Castro] That is good.  In general, according to you reporters, has it been
better this year?  Has the championship been better?

[Reporter] Yes, the championship has been pretty good.  Pinar del Rio was a
great disappointment, unfortunately they went down quite a bit.  Rogelio...

[Castro, interrupting] (Agete), what has happened to (Agete)?

[Reporter] Well, (Agete) has lost about eight games.  (Agete) has not had a
good showing, commander.  Rogelio left or at least he is not pitching, or
he is injured.  (Urquiola) left.  That is, they have not found
replacements, up to now.

[Castro] In your opinion, how is the pitching?

[Reporter] Of whom?

[Castro] Of the teams.

[Reporter] No pitching...[rephrases] There are young figures.  There are
two left-handed pitchers in Camaguey.  (Bonafe Napoles) and Andres Luis
Martinez who are doing very well.  Pitching in the capital is very good.
The young fellows from Las Villas have had a good show.  (Duvergel) from
Serrano is doing well also.  I believe we are going to have better
pitchers.  However, things are not looking good for the Cuban team this

[Castro] What is the next important international event?

[Reporter] We have a game with the professionals in Venezuela and the
Inter-Continental Cup in Puerto Rico.

[Castro] Is that all for this year?

[Reporter] That is the key event of the year, the Inter-Continental Cup.

[Castro] In what month?

[Reporter] In August.

[Castro] Well, if it starts to rain as it has rained here in April and
March...[changes thought] It has hindered the sugarcane harvest a little.
It has rained a little bit more than it should during these days.  Do you
believe there is an early spring or what?

[Reporter] What I believe...

[Castro, interrupting] Because it affects the sugarcane harvest and

[Reporter] What I believe is that Pinar del Rio is doing poorly in baseball
but it is doing very well in the sugarcane harvest.

[Castro] Yes, it fulfilled its quota.  Pinar del Rio is doing very well in
many things.  Perhaps they can recover.

[Reporter] In baseball?

[Castro] Perhaps they can recover.

[Reporter] Not this year.

[Castro] They already completed the stadium.  What do they call it?

[Reporter] The multiple use room, next to the San Luis.

[Castro] They don't call it stadium, what is it called?

[Reporter] Multiple use room.

[Castro] Multiple use room.

[Reporter] It is very good, very pretty.

[Castro] I went over there and they were finishing it already.

[Reporter] They are very proud of that place.

[Castro] Yes, they have been building it for many years.  It was one of
those projects that had been going on forever.  They made the commitment to
finish it and they did.  I believe that the construction is of very good
quality.  The Pan-American Games projects are the ones that are going at
full speed.

[Reporter] What do you think about that, commander?

[Castro] I visited them the other day and the minibrigade members working
there are already getting a spirit of a bee hive.  They look like little
ants, like bees, working there.

[Reporter] Like the Blas Roca Contingent.

[Castro] I think they are going to be at the level of the Blas Roca.  That
is the kind of spirit with which they are working.  They are already
digging the holes for the swimming pools.  They are already working on the
velodrome.  They have made much progress at the tennis courts.

[Reporter] I went by the Olympic Stadium and they have done quite a bit.

[Castro] They are making much progress where the Stadium is located.  They
are using a lot of explosives.  They have to use some 800 tons of
explosives there.  They are preparing camping sites; they are preparing
everything there.  I believe that it is going to be a great battle, an
interesting battle.  In my opinion, it is going well.

I don't refer to the projects around this area because they are more
simple.  The serious, serious [repeats himself] projects are the velodrome,
the stadium, and the olympic village--the 1,500 housing units of the
olympic village.  It is so pretty.  That area is changing.  The olympic
village buildings are going to be very pretty because they are going to be
built in terraces.  I believe they are going at a good pace and are working
with good quality.  The most difficult one, of course, is the velodrome
because it is complex.  It is an installation that requires mathematical
precision, but he who sees the pace in which that is being built and the
spirit prevailing there knows that the Pan-American Games are going to be

[Reporter] And that we are going to deliver.

[Castro] For sure.