Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC

Castro Speaks to Pan-American Games Athletes
Havana Cuba Vision Network
Report Type:         Daily Report             AFS Number:     FL1607135791
Report Number:       FBIS-LAT-91-137          Report Date:    17 Jul 91
Report Series:       Daily Report             Start Page:     13
Report Division:     CARIBBEAN                End Page:       14
Report Subdivision:  Cuba                     AG File Flag:   
Classification:      UNCLASSIFIED             Language:       Spanish
Document Date:       16 Jul 91
Report Volume:       Wednesday Vol VI No 137


City/Source of Document:   Havana Cuba Vision Network

Report Name:   Latin America

Headline:   Castro Speaks to Pan-American Games Athletes

Author(s):   President Fidel Castro at a ceremony to present the Cuban flag to
the Cuban Pan-American Games team at the Palace of the Revolution
in Havana on 15 July-recorded]

Source Line:   FL1607135791 Havana Cuba Vision Network in Spanish 0037 GMT 16
Jul 91

Subslug:   [Speech by President Fidel Castro at a ceremony to present the Cuban
flag to the Cuban Pan-American Games team at the Palace of the
Revolution in Havana on 15 July-recorded]

1.  [Speech by President Fidel Castro at a ceremony to present the Cuban flag
to the Cuban Pan-American Games team at the Palace of the Revolution in Havana
on 15 July-recorded]

2.  [Text] Dear comrade athletes:

3.  I am going to be very brief. We all have things to do during these times.
You have to train. In any case, I want to convey to you warm greetings, full of
admiration, from all of us the comrades of the party and government.  For the
first time in these years of the revolution, you...  [corrects himself] we do
not come to see the delegation off since the delegation is going to perform
here in our country. For the first time, the people will not have to follow the
sports events over the radio or television alone. They will now be able to
attend many of them.  Naturally, since there is not enough room for everyone at
the stadiums where the competitions are going to be held, many will have to
watch on television and listen over the radio, but from here. I believe there
will be more transmissions than ever, more hours of television and radio
transmissions than ever. In addition, our press will be there. I do not know if
it will have a lot of paper but a little sports newspaper is already
circulating and we get it almost every day.

4.  For the first time, you will have the warmth and applause of our people
right there next to the scene of the events.  Previously, you had to receive it
from a distance but it was so strong that I believe no matter where you were
the echo of the applause of our people was heard there. Now it will get there
much faster. We will enjoy the news much faster. The schedule will be more in
line with ours.  Sometimes the sports events took place three hours ahead or
behind our time. Sometimes they lagged seven hours. Sometimes we had to watch
the sports events at 0300 or 0400. None of that will take place this time. Our
people will have the privilege of seeing and enjoying the 11th Pan-American
Games from the fatherland.

5.  Our country has done a lot for sports. I believe that no other country in
the hemisphere has done more in this field than Cuba. I believe that nobody
deserved it more than Cuba. In the early years, obstacles were placed to
prevent us from traveling. A lot of work has been done and we finally have been
able to get our fatherland to host the Pan-American Games. We could have been
able to host them a long time ago. It should have happened earlier but our
policy of principles, our loyalty, and solidarity with those who we owed or
thought we owed solidarity brought as a result that the possibility of hosting
the Pan-American Games was delayed a few more years.

6.  Attempts were made toward the end to sabotage this opportunity. We fought
and were able to get the right to host them some years ago. By chance this
coincided with difficult times for our economy for reasons you all know and I
am not going to repeat here. Perhaps if we had to make the decision today at
this very moment, or last year, or even during the second half of 1989, it is
possible that the holding of these games in our country would have been
postponed for a few more years. But the decision was made some five years ago.

7.  In fact, when we decided to attend the Indianapolis games, we had already
made the express commitment that the 11th games would be here in Havana.
Indianapolis was in 1987. Our struggle to host the Pan-American Games went much
further back, but the real fact is that when these difficult circumstances
arose, the commitment had already been made. Our word of honor had been given.
The construction projects were already well under way. The basic spending we
had to do had already been done. The contracts for the basic materials had been
signed. Without any hesitation, because of all these factors, we insisted on
keeping our word of honor, meeting our international commitments, and holding
these games in our country.

8.  Perhaps ours are the most economical construction projects that have ever
been done, because they have been done with the participation, effort, and
sweat of hundreds of thousands of our citizens, perhaps millions, in Havana and
Santiago de Cuba. How many hours of voluntary work have been done! Today it
would be difficult to find someone in this city, for example, who has not
contributed their grain of sand, who has not invested a few hours of voluntary
work in building these facilities. The minibrigade members also made an
exceptional effort, as did the construction workers, of course.

9.  As I have said other times, our country had dreamed for a long time not
only of hosting an event of this kind, which it deserves, but our country had
also dreamed for a long time of having a velodrome, for example. We have waited
more than 30 years to have a velodrome. We wanted an Olympic stadium. We have
waited more than 30 years for one. Dozens of baseball stadiums have been built.
We dreamed of having a swimming pool complex, and we have waited more than 30
years. But now we finally have them. They are excellent facilities.

10.  The facilities we now have could even be used for the Olympic Games, as
some visitors have said. As I told them, they have been the cheapest in the
world. We have had to spend money only on those materials we did not have in
this country and that were essential for some construction projects. We intend
to recoup this money, partly through the facilities and partly through the
Olympic Villa, which we will use for tourism. We will use about 30 percent, 32
percent I think, but along with the hotel this gives capacity for sports events
(?right here) and will make it possible to hold other events. In a short time,
we intend to recoup the hard currency we invested in these facilities.

11.  The Yankees did everything possible to sabotage this, even to deprive us
of the income from television. They categorically forbid the U.S. television
networks to pay a single cent for their broadcasts. This in fact implied a loss
of a few million dollars. In any case, we also made investments in television,
but essential investments, since the equipment was very old and was in very bad
technical condition for our own broadcasts. So television has gained a great
deal from our hosting these Pan-American Games in our country.

12.  But I can tell you that the funds spent in hard currency will be recovered
in a short time. The work done there by our workers will last for a long time
because, I repeat, the most important thing is not the games themselves,
although they are a very high honor. The most important thing is the
facilities, which will last forever, for the development of sports and the
enjoyment of our people.  These are excellent facilities which we have dreamed
of for a long time.

13.  Some people thought that these facilities would not be finished. Because
they passed by on the highway and saw the stadium and did not know much about
the design, they thought the stadium would never be finished. At one time it
seemed that the swimming pools would not be finished, and at other times it
seemed that this multipurpose arena in Plaza Municipality would not be
finished. Now it seems that everything has been finished, except perhaps for
some grass, some flowers, and some trees we still have to plant between now and
2 August.

14.  But as always, when it comes down to it, this is one of our
characteristics. We will never be rid of it. I am completely convinced that if
our marathon runners were capable of running at the speed we always run at the
end to finish things, we would be Olympic champions at all the Olympic Games in
the marathon. [applause] Because not even [Alberto] Juantorena or Ana Fidelia
[Quirot], in spite of the fact that they are as quick as arrows, are capable of
finishing, or were capable of finishing, at that pace. But we have finished and
here we are, very close now to this great sports event.

15.  Not only did hundreds of thousands work on preparing for this event, on
its facilities, on different days, not only did almost everyone participate,
but while the event is being held, tens of thousands of people will
participate, from those who form the boards-what is it called?-the human
blackboard. With this heat, it will be quite an inhumane blackboard, but
anyway, I can imagine the people in training for it. They have to participate
in the human blackboard and all the activities. There are tens of thousands of

16.  Because now in this case it is not a question of our medals in the
competition. We know we will win a lot of medals. We win more medals per capita
than anyone.  When we calculated it recently we noted that for every million
Americans, they win 0.6 medals; that is, about half a medal. For every million
Cubans, in the last Pan-American Games we won more than seven medals, seven
medals per million inhabitants, at least 12 to 14 times more medals per million
inhabitants than the United States. We know we are going to win plenty of

17.  But the most important medals, in which we have to get the gold medal and
a Pan-American record, are those for hospitality. We must be capable of
welcoming the thousands of athletes who will visit us and the thousands and
thousands of tourists who will visit our country during those days. We must
show them all the warmth our people are capable of, all the hospitality our
people harbor in their feelings of solidarity and humanity. Then we will win
this medal and will occupy a very outstanding place.  This way no one will be
able to say afterwards that they have been treated better anywhere than in
Cuba, or that the event was better organized than in Cuba. This should be one
of our major goals.

18.  In addition, the people will have a magnificent August.  Many will have to
wrack their brains every day to decide what event they should attend. I know
that you are going to be equal to the circumstances. I have had the privilege
of having the baseball team here in front of me, among those in the front row.
We have seen them in recent days playing over there [in the United States] and
here. I think there was a festival of home runs on Saturday. The batting was
so-so on Sunday. The U.S. pitching was good, according to what the reporters
say, and what those of us who attended say.

19.  In spite of this, now our B team, or our second team, has won none other
than the Intercontinental Cup, and in what a way, what a way! [repeats] With
two outs! Just as we Cubans sometimes do things so well in the last inning, I
hope, I am sure, that our excellent team will see the ball well and play
brilliantly in the Pan-American Games, and bring us two major wins in only one
month, first place in two major events. But I also hope-I have mentioned them
because they are here in front-but I also hope all of you, all the athletes,
will play brilliantly, knowing that you are defending the prestige of our
sports and the honor of our nation.

20.  I will say more. In these difficult times, you will be an example of the
courage and bravery of our people. You will be an example that we are really a
fighting people and an invincible people. In order to keep my word, I will end
here. Socialism or death, fatherland or death, we will win! [applause]