Latin American Network Information Center - LANIC

Castro Speaks at Pan-American Village Ceremony
Havana Radio and Television Networks
Report Type:         Daily Report             AFS Number:     FL2907132691
Report Number:       FBIS-LAT-91-146          Report Date:    30 Jul 91
Report Series:       Daily Report             Start Page:     16
Report Division:     CARIBBEAN                End Page:       19
Report Subdivision:  Cuba                     AG File Flag:   
Classification:      UNCLASSIFIED             Language:       Spanish
Document Date:       25 Jul 91
Report Volume:       Tuesday Vol VI No 146


City/Source of Document:   Havana Radio and Television Networks

Report Name:   Latin America

Headline:   Castro Speaks at Pan-American Village Ceremony

Author(s):   President Fidel Castro at the dedication ceremony at the
Pan-American Games Village in Havana-live]

Source Line:   FL2907132691 Havana Radio and Television Networks in Spanish
2232 GMT 25 Jul 91

Subslug:   [Speech by President Fidel Castro at the dedication ceremony at the
Pan-American Games Village in Havana-live]

1.  [Speech by President Fidel Castro at the dedication ceremony at the
Pan-American Games Village in Havana-live]

2.  [Text] Dear Comrade Nelson Mandela and other members of the African
National Congress [ANC] delegation, outstanding workers, athletes, guests:

3.  I am going to be very brief. A few days ago we gave the banner to our team.
Today we are meeting here in this simple ceremony for a really very important
event. This is the symbolic dedication-and I say symbolic because the
facilities are spread out in many places-of the construction projects for the
Pan-American Games. As [Jose Ramon] Fernandez has explained here, there are 21
new facilities and 46 facilities that have been remodelled. In this case, good
luck-because nobody planned it this way-has brought about a visit in these days
by this extraordinary person, this prestigious fighter, known throughout the
world, Nelson Mandela. [applause]

4.  He is making a quick tour of Latin American and the Caribbean and has
coincided with this date and also with the 26 July anniversary. That is why it
has been a great honor for us and a great pleasure to have the opportunity of
having him here. I must mention that Mandela likes sports. In his youth he
played sports. Later he had to work in activities of great importance for his
country and his fellow citizens. As a result of his struggle against apartheid,
he had to suffer many years in prison. He was imprisoned more than once, but
the last time was for more than 25 years, 27 years, in the harsh prisons of
South Africa.

5.  Although he could not play sports there, he did exercise every day. You
only need the will to do exercises, and the awareness of the need to do
exercises. Here we can see the results, which are a wonderful example to us, in
his physique. In his case you cannot talk about obesity or a sedentary
lifestyle. He has an athletic figure and above all, no one can guess his age.
You cannot tell how old he is by looking at him. This is especially true when
you take into account the tireless activities he carries out every day, at all
hours, his health, the enormous contribution he personally makes in a decisive
stage of his historic struggle for justice in his country, his historic
struggle for equality, his historic struggle against racism, his historic
struggle against apartheid, his historic struggle for a government of his

6.  I think that we who are always preaching the need for sports and physical
exercise have in Mandela a wonderful example to imitate. Of course, we are not
going to forget about Manolo [not further identified], who has just raised the
flag here in spite of the fact that Manolo does not look so athletic.
[laughter] So his presence gives a special meaning to our dedication ceremony.
I think our deepest appreciation, from all of us who are present here, from our
people, should be expressed to those who built these projects here in the
eastern part of Havana, or the western part, or in Plaza Municipality, or Lenin
Park, or in many other places in the capital or Havana Province or Santiago de
Cuba. If something can be stressed because of its special meaning, it is the
fact that these projects have been built with immense patriotism, immense
revolutionary spirit, and immense love.

7.  Many facilities have been dedicated to sporting events, but I think that
none has had such a spontaneous and enthusiastic participation by the people,
such enthusiastic and massive participation. The mere fact that more than
300,000 Havana residents have participated in building these facilities says it
all. A few thousand professional workers and hundreds of thousands of volunteer
workers participated. I do not think this has any precedent in the history of
sports, or of the Pan-American Games, or even of the famous Olympic Games.
These facilities have been built with the people's sweat, the people's will,
the people's care. So I think they have more than enough reasons to feel proud,
and more than enough right to enjoy for an indefinite time this product of
their work.

8.  As extraordinary as that is, many of them have never built anything. We are
not forgetting, of course, that we have become a nation of construction
workers, a nation of workers, where students from secondary schools participate
in one way or another in classes and work, so no one is afraid when they have
to go to work in agriculture, or when they have to push a wheelbarrow, or when
they have to lay bricks. We are not forgetting this, that we have become a
nation of construction workers. However, it would not be possible to explain in
this way the quality of these facilities.  They have been able not only to
build a great dealt, but to build well, with extraordinarily high quality.

9.  Without any reservation I can say that I have never seen a more beautiful
community than this Pan-American Village. [applause] It could be called Olympic
Villa. It is truly beautiful. I have never seen a more beautiful neighborhood,
even in places where the wealthiest families live, where such attention has
been given to aesthetics. You cannot help but be amazed even when you spend a
long time looking at it.

10.  Those who created, planned, and built it deserve special congratulations.
[applause] This shows what architecture can do, even the famous prefabricated
components, when things are done intelligently and with a creative spirit. This
is why we say that there will be two periods in the history of our
architecture; before and after the Pan-American Games. [applause] There will be
many towns and communities in Havana Province that will copy a large part of
the style of these structures. We will not be able to build exactly the same
communities inasmuch as all the styles and all types of prefabricated
components are represented here but we will build communities almost as pretty
as this one for our agricultural laborers. The same can be said about the
facilities.  In my opinion, the velodrome is a marvel. The stadium is
extraordinarily beautiful. The swimming facilities are impressive. The same can
be said about the others. I have not seen the Plaza multiple-use arena since it
has been completed, but from the outside it also looks like a great
architectural work. In Habana Vieja, where we are preserving the values of the
architecture of another century, we have built a mulitple-use arena inside the
facade of an old building without changing the style of the area one bit.

11.  It is said that the facility for rowing events is also marvelous. Sadly,
we have given up the dam that was going to be used for agriculture. It is a
small dam. They promised us that it was only going to be used for the
Pan-American Games. It turned out so good, so pretty, and so valuable, so
exceptionally appropriate for that type of activity, that I forgot about the
dam. [applause] It can be said that the matter was discussed, was discussed
[repeats] at the highest level. The irrigation installations had not been built
yet. Here we appreciate each drop of water, each dam, each reservoir. It is not
a reservoir of 1 billion [measure not specified] like the Zaza Dam or like the
Gabama Dam. No, it is a small dam of some 10 or 12 million cubic meters. What
is the capacity? [unidentified speaker's answer indistinct] I am not so far
off. I later discussed with the water management engineers how not to lose that
water. If we use the irrigation systems, it will be empty part of the year.
That dam is maintained like that; it is always full. If it is emptied, the
boats cannot sail. It could only be used in the spring. I told them to think
that in spite of everything we are not losing this water. Think if a little
further down we could build a small dam and we can build two or three small
dams a little further up so that we can use the water that is left over at the
end of the spring, when everything is full.  During the dry season we can use
the water from the smaller dams and leave the water in the flooded dam.

12.  I am telling you all this to give you an idea of how each one of these
things was a subject of analysis and concern.  I do not believe that there was
bad faith on the part of Manolo, or Fernandez, or the INDER [National Institute
for Sports, Physical Education, and Recreation] comrades. No, no. I am
absolutely convinced of their good faith. But they could not imagine how well
all this was going to turn out, and if they did imagine it they did not tell
anyone. After it was built, it needs to be used for rowing forever. There is no

13.  So, what is said about this village can be said about all the
installations. I am not afraid to state that if we ever were given the chance
we could organize even the Olympic Games. Nobody should be afraid. There are
some that get scared. A lot of time will possibly go by before they give us the
chance to host the Olympic Games. You know how the Olympics business is; it is
for the powerful, extremely powerful. Nowadays, an Olympic Games in the Third
World is almost unimaginable.

14.  But I say that these facilities are Olympic quality, the velodrome, the
pools. The stadium can even be expanded, and the areas we have here are for us
to build more if we want. Part of these facilities will go to serve tourism.
Most of the village will pass into the hands of those who worked to build it.
Not all of them, because tens of thousands of people worked on this village,
but most of the buildings and apartments will pass into the hands of those who
worked regularly to build them. So about 1,000 families-I do not remember the
exact number-will live in these palaces we have built as the Pan-American

15.  But we intend to continue to develop this area. Not far from here we have
excellent beaches. As I said the day I gave the banner to the Pan-American
Games team, in a short time we will recoup all the hard currency we have
invested in our Pan-American Games facilities. Some money will be collected
during the events, although this was not the aim; far from it. There was no
economic aim, but naturally we have had to finish these construction projects
during the special period, and we do not have the right to forget the economic

16.  I said these were the most economical projects that had ever been built.
The vast majority of the work was done by voluntary workers and with Cuban
materials. The hard currency was used for materials we could not produce here,
or for some equipment. Fernandez explained that they had granted us the village
in 1986.  [corrects himself] Not the village, the event, 1986, November 1986.
Everything was going very well at that time. Then there were serious problems
on the international front that had a very direct impact on our economy. As he
explained, the projects were underway; the buildings were under construction.
Most of the spending had already been done on what was necessary to build all

17.  But we are not a nation that trembles. We are not men to tremble or become
discouraged in the face of difficulties.  It could be perfectly understood
....[rephrases] Some did not succeed in understanding this, but we understood
perfectly well about our sense of honor and our international obligations. So
when things became seriously complicated, or began to become complicated, in
1990, when the difficulties began, for the reasons we all know-it is not
necessary to repeat them here-there was no doubt, there was no hesitation about
pushing forward with the construction projects. This was not only the right
thing, the healthiest thing, but we were not going to waste what we had
invested. We were not going to leave this area turned into ruins or unfinished
projects. No. We had to continue to move forward. We continued to move forward,
and here we are, in the presence of what is really a marvel of human labor and

18.  I think our capital city has been enriched. It has been beautified. I
think everyone who passes through the eastern side of the city for years and
decades to come will have the opportunity of appreciating these marvels, and
the new ones we will continue to build. I think the present and future
generations will always be happy about the courageous decision to continue the
construction when the special period started, and to finish it.  Now, how much
strength have we gained, because we have done this ourselves!

19.  We have been building dozens of factories and economic facilities along
with this. We have built more than 60 agricultural camps along with this. We
have built tens of thousands of hectares of plot drainage and irrigation, and
the engineering system for rice, and hundreds of kilometers of irrigation
canals along with this. In the year that just ended, we made the largest
investments in water management projects along with this. So our country did
not work only on the Pan-American Games projects.  They have been a very small
part of our efforts. When one day there were 4,000 or 5,000 people working here
regularly, there were almost 17,000 voluntary workers in the agricultural camps
in Havana Province. Havana residents in those camps, Havana residents here, and
the largest gatherings were on Sundays. When there were 10,000 here, there were
25,000 there.

20.  So the people have worked, and they have worked on many fronts, many
fields. We know very well what each of those who worked here know how to do,
and what they should do now, where the professional forces should go, where the
minibrigades should go, where the minibrigade contingents should go, where the
Blas Roca Contingent should go, and all that enormous group of forces that
participated in this feat. We should also not forget the extraordinary
cooperation that prevailed between all the organizations. There was not a
single institution that something here depended on that did not provide all its
support. That is why this miracle has been possible, something that seemed like
it would never be finished, and that we are dedicating today, 25 July.

21.  We can only hope for rain. Not as much as fell while we were in the middle
of building, but enough to make the grass grow. We have seven days left, more
or less, until the games open. If the grass grows here the way it grows in the
banana plantations, we can be sure we will have enough grass and green areas,
even in the last ones that were planted. I said that the grass grows a lot in
the banana plantations, but I mean that it used to grow, because they no longer
let it grow. That is the result of the work by those mobilized from Havana and
Havana Province, the weed-free state of our fields, and the way the different
crops are growing. Their harvest will mostly be seen next year.

22.  I said I was going to be very brief, but it seems I became involved and
was inspired by these things. But in any case, I will be brief by my standards.
[applause] I do not know what you are clapping for. It may be because I said I
will be brief. I see how much you appreciate my speech.  The only thing left
for me to say is that our team is already staying at the village. It was
natural for us, the hosts, to be the first. That is why the Cuban flag is
already flying. I think the other teams are beginning to arrive now, and soon
all these flagpoles will be filled by the countries that will come for the
competition. I think it is an advantage for the athletes.

23.  It has already been said and repeated that the number one medal must be
for hospitality, but we should not renounce the others. I hope there will be
many of them, and of high quality. I am sure our country will experience days
of healthy enjoyment. It will experience days of happiness and festivities with
these Pan-American Games. We are very sorry that Comrade Mandela will not be
able to enjoy these games, but we will send him all the necessary news. We will
send him a summary of how these Pan-American Games have been held, for which we
have had the privilege of having his presence at the dedication of the

24.  He is very interested in sports. One of the first things he asked
me-because he has been here twice, I went to meet him twice, once during the
refueling stop and the other time for the official visit-one of the first
things he asked me was about [former boxer Teofilo] Stevenson, how Stevenson
was, and if Stevenson was still boxing. I said that I think if someone provokes
him he is capable of boxing and knocking out anyone, but he is no longer
actively in the sport. I said that we would surely run into him somewhere, and
Mandela would have the chance to meet him, because he told me he wanted to meet
Stevenson. I see him here right now. So, Stevenson, come up here quickly, show
that you are still agile, and shake hands. [applause]

25.  Well, since this is a sports event, and with sports you should not talk
about politics, but since the games have not yet started ....[changes thought]
This is not the same as the opening ceremony. You know how the opening speech
is. It is a straight line, of this and that and whatever, and nothing more.
[laughter] That will really be a short speech. It will be shorter than the one
I gave in Mexico. But since we are still all Cubans here, and in the presence
of such an illustrious fighter, it is fitting to repeat once more: Socialism or
death, fatherland or death, venceremos! [applause]