[Marxism] Fidel Castro: A Written Record (Reflection No. 41)

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Wed Aug 8 09:34:46 MDT 2007

Sports as big business. Cuban athletes as trophies to be bought and
sold in the marketplace. These are some of the themes which Fidel's
latest reflection considers. I think this is the first time since
Mariel in 1980 that Fidel Castro has taken up and publicly discussed
such abandonments of their country by some Cubans. We're going to be
learning a great deal about this modern-day slave trade as the story
continues to unravel. As anyone who's been to Cuba knows, there are
more than a few Cubans who dream of leaving the island. One of the
best things about Cuba's medical aid programs abroad is the way it
gives Cubans without previous experience abroad some experience in
which they can observe and experience a bit about capitalist reality.
Despite an active program by Washington to lure these doctors into
defecting, almost none have. That shows us quite a bit.

Oh, nice to notice that when the defectors decided they'd been taken
advantage of by the German sports promotors, the Brazilian government
did the right thing: returning them to Cuba. President Lula caught 
some political hell for doing this simple, obvious and appropriate
thing. When people are in your country without documents, they are
returned to their country of origin, as they should be, unless they
are applying for political asylum, as these two boxers did not do.

Walter Lippmann
Brazil lawmakers angry that Cuban boxers were deported

Reflection by Cuban President Fidel Castro
A Written Record
Fidel Castro Ruz
August 7, 2007
8:25 p.m.b


Many events important events take place around the world. Some are
related to Cuba. Sometimes, the news reaching our country are much more
interesting than a simple reflection I can offer with the purpose of
raising the public's awareness.

The BBC interview of Gerardo Hernández Nordelo, one of our Five Heroes,
which was televised yesterday, had a profound impact on me. What human
content, profundity and brilliance characterized it, qualities that
only a mind that has endured 9 years of unjust psychological torture
can have. We urge the Round Table to continue to inform us on the
historic process surrounding the fate of these, our heroic fellow

Meanwhile, in Brazil, the press continues to dig up stories and to
report on the activities of the two boxers who, breaking the rules,
disappeared from the accommodations where the Cuban delegation was

An EFE cable published in Rio de Janeiro on August 3 reports:

"After being caught in a resort near Rio, where they spent some days
with a Cuban and a German businessman, and three prostitutes, the
boxers were taken to a hotel in the night; they are under custody by
the Federal Police.

"Ringodeaux and Lara were arrested at Araruama last Thursday. According
to the police, the boxers regretted what had happened, they want to
return to Cuba" and alleged to have been the victims of a planned
strike, for which they were drugged by the promoters before being taken
out of the Pan-American complex. The athletes turned down the offer of
two lawyers who approached them at Federal Police headquarters and
insisted on representing them.

"The Cuban athletes, however, had been seen in different resorts in the
north coast of Rio de Janeiro, enjoying the resorts and partying full
of alcohol and women". According to the owners of inns located in the
Squarema resort who were interviewed by O Globo, the two boxers,
accompanied by a Cuban and German businessmen, spent several days in
that city before traveling to Araruama, accompanied by three
prostitutes hired in Rio de Janeiro. 'They are good people, they
treated us as if we were their girlfriends and they even told us they
were going to miss us', one of the women declared, admitting to having
received nearly one hundred dollars a day, in her statements for O

These are uncomfortable but essential details and I cannot use terms
different from those chosen by the press agency in its article. 
I imagine the boxers informed their closest, adult relatives about 
these facts.

Yesterday, August 6, a cable from the same agency reported:

The Brazilian police stated it believed the story of the events
recounted by the two Cuban boxers who were deported to their country
after they disappeared during the Pan-American Games of Rio de Janeiro.
They claimed they had been drugged and deceived by two promoters who
sought to take them with them to Germany.

We believe what they told us and we consider their story feasible and
probable, Federal Police captain Felicio Latera, who headed the
investigation, told EFE today

The Brazilian police is not investigating the alleged desertion of the
two Cubans, it is investigating the two promoters who attempted to
snatch them, the captain declared.

That same day, EFE reported in that same cable that:

During an interview with a Brazilian newspaper, German businessman
Ahmet Öner, the promoter of four Cuban boxers who have already secured
asylum in Germany, admitted that he organized Rigondeaux's and Lara's
escape, for which he claims to have paid nearly half a million dollars".

We do not doubt that the Federal Police thought the athletes' regret
sincere. That institution was tasked with securing, from the Cuban
consulate, the documentation that the boxers were urgently requesting
and with giving an account of what had occurred to them in their 12-day

For the immense majority of our people, who educate and train the
athletes with so much sacrifice, what is essential is their moral

The person, who is most to blame, in my opinion, is Erislandy Lara, who
as captain of the boxing team broke the rules and played directly into
the hands of the mercenaries. He is a 24 years old student of physical
education and sports at the university. The two boxers are unaware of
the negative influence which their close friendships with the boxers
who were bribed in Venezuela had on their behavior, and they likely did
not predict the indiscrete verbiage with which the owner of the
mafia-like company was to speak after they failed to attend the

The two athletes were reluctant to speak to the press. Miguel
Hernández, a Granma journalist, greeted them at the airport and
conversed with them about the matter. The answers were disappointing
for him, who attempted to write a convincing article proving the
sincerity of the boxers.

Julita Osendi, a television reporter who was well informed about the
Pan-American Games held in Rio, arranged a meeting with them and made
efforts to persuade them to speak with absolute frankness. They were
more forthcoming and shared with her a number of additional details
about their unusual adventure, but the final outcome of the interview
was the same.

I asked comrade Fernández, the Vice-President of the Council of
Ministers responsible for the National Institute for Sports and
Recreation (INDER), among other institutions, to send me a
transcription of Osendi's interview with Erislandy Lara and Guillermo
Rigondeaux. The images were not enough for me; I wanted to analyze each
question and answer. The text is twice as long as this reflection.

I will ask Granma to publish it in the sports or another section, for
there to be a written record of the conversation.

Many poor countries face no problems with their professional athletes
but, in those countries, many people also die prematurely or suffer
incapacitating illnesses due to a lack of exercise. Rich developed
countries also endure this tragic state of affairs as a result of the
shortcomings of their rotten system and the commercial spirit of their
medical services.

The athlete who abandons his delegation is not unlike the soldier who
abandons his fellow men in the midst of combat. Cuba has many talented
athletes but it has not stolen them from anyone. The people, what's
more, are the ones who enjoy their marvelous performances. It is
already a part of their culture, their wellbeing and their spiritual

The Revolution has kept its word. It promised to treat the two athletes
in a humane fashion, to reunite them with their families immediately,
offer them access to the press if they so requested it and provide them
with decent employment in accordance with their experience. We have
also diligently cared for their health, as we do with all citizens.

It was essential, as an elementary act of justice, to listen to them,
to find out to what extent they regretted their involvement in so
painful an incident.

We have made the facts we were able to gather available to our people.
The athletes wish to return to their families. As part of a Cuban
delegation of that sport discipline, they have reached a point of no

We, on the other hand, must continue the struggle. The time has come 
to put together the list of Cuban boxers who will participate in the
Beijing Olympics, about one year before this event. First, they must
travel to the United States to participate in the World Championship,
one of the three qualifying events of the Olympic Games. Just picture
the mafia sharks lurking about in search of fresh meat.

They should be warned of one thing: we are not eager to make home
deliveries. Cuba will not sacrifice one bit of honor, nor any of its
ideas, for Olympic gold medals; the morale and patriotism of its
athletes shall prevail above all else. We know that, in the world of
boxing, the size of the ring and gloves have been modified to strike at
our country, which wins so many medals in this sport, so as to finally
include professional boxing in the Olympic Games as well.

Sport authorities are analyzing all possible alternatives, including
the option of changing the list of boxers or of not sending any
delegation whatsoever, in spite of the penalties that may be in store
for us. They are also analyzing strategies and tactics we could follow.

We will maintain our principled policy, even if the world heads more
and more resolutely towards professionalism, and as in the times of Kid
Chocolate, a true genius, even when there are no medals for healthy
sports and the only conceivable disciplines are those which put a price
tag on pitching balls that are impossible to bat, batting homeruns and
throwing and enduring punches with no protection whatsoever. We will
never return to such a time.

Healthy sport practices are incompatible with consumerism and
wastefulness, phenomena which are at the root of the irreversible
economic and social crisis facing the globalized world.

Fidel Castro Ruz
August 7, 2007
8:25 p.m.

Editor-in-Chief, CubaNews
writer - photographer - activist

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