Third reflection on the Pan American Games

By Cuban President Fidel Castro

I DO not have much material to write, nor do I have the time.

The Cuba-United States baseball match has been announced for 8:00 a.m. At that time I am sometimes in dreamland. The weather prevented the game from taking place. I think that the celebrated match will begin on Friday at 8 a.m., if the weather doesn’t force a change. Our athletes are ready to compete even in the mud; but that is not the case with their adversaries who would prefer to share first place. We shall see what happens.

Today, Thursday, I am writing for the sports page. It struck me to see the number of athletes injured in many of the sports, with the exception of swimming, ping pong, tennis and a few others. Professional status forces you to risk your life like a modern gladiator. When they are not felled by a real injury, they pretend like drama specialists. That would not educate anyone among the millions of athletes of all ages in our country.

In many countries, athletes do not even compete for their own nation. Some of them earn up to 102 million dollars a year, more than the owner of a large sugar mill. Cuba only has her own athletes, and they are not professionals. It is an unfair contest.

Tell me what’s your competition, and I will tell you who your colonizers were.

Sometimes I have fun as I watch the strong, well-nourished, thorough-bred horses – let’s call them Aryan – just like their riders. But despite all that, it is a peaceful competition and an amusing colonial heritage. Tell me what’s your competition, and I will tell you who your colonizers were.

Nowadays as we have some relative sovereignty, everyone, as the case may be, tries to introduce new sports into the regional and world competitions. One example: badminton.

I am now watching the women’s volleyball game. The score is 18 to 17 for Brazil in the first set, fighting for the gold. Let’s see if hearts will be strong. We lost 27 to 25. The semi-finals were excellent and hard-fought. The Brazilian manager is worse off than I am. We win the second set, 25 to 23. We lose the third, 22 to 25. We win the fourth, 34 to 32. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that the Brazilian manager has had a serious heart condition. Finally, we win the last set, 17 to 15. What an amazing game!

We have just heard the national anthem playing for the gold medal in women’s cycling, at 4:35 in the afternoon. The anthem is played again for judo, broadcast at 4:44. And again for volleyball, immediately afterwards. And later still, another gold, for men’s cycling.

The news keeps coming, but I must deliver this material and watch the University of Information Sciences graduation ceremony. It is almost 6:00 p.m.

Before closing, I would like to express my deepest sorrow to the people of Brazil about the tragic aviation accident, with approximately 200 people perishing in the midst of the joy of the Pan-American Games.

Fidel Castro Ruz

July 19, 2007

6:00 p.m.

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