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Reflections on the Pan American Games

In Spite of Everything

by FIDEL CASTRO

Do you think that you merely enjoy the Pan American Games? Think again, and you will realize that no matter your age, you run, jump, put the shots, throw javelins, discuses and hammers; soar above hurdles and tracks, relay batons, spike balls, score a basket, row, execute ippons, turn your rival over, follow strategies, splash water over yourself after running for two hours and even stop taking in the oxygen that your lungs are demanding. What a wonderful show the athletes put on for us!
 
But you do not just enjoy; you participate, especially when athletes from your country are competing. In our case, there is hardly any event where there is not a Cuban team or athlete present.
 
Besides, July and August are months filled with commemorative activities. This is also the warmest and most humid period of the year. Added to this there is a magic word: holidays! Your homes see millions of children, teenagers and young people getting together. People from all ages feel the obsessive need to relax in this stressful time in which we live.
 
This is the time of mothers, especially of grandmothers. With great love and determination they look after their children’s children and even after their grandchildren’s children. They are the heroines of the marathon that goes on year after year.
 
Commemorations would lack every sense if it were not for the advances achieved by our Revolution; these are the sum total of examples set forth and efforts carried out for a long time.Cubais almost the only country offering free education, health and sports services.
 
A special tribute should go to a comrade who exactly 50 years ago gave up his life fighting the tyranny: the young 22-year-old hero Frank País.
 
Those who fought for these ideals made it possible for us to enjoy today’s levels of social justice, which includes full employment for all men and women in our country.
 
The most important achievement of the Revolution has been the capacity to resist a blockade for almost half century as well as privations of every sort. Restrictions in the variety and quality of foodstuffs and future threats of unaffordable prices that may result from the imperialist constraint of using much of  this scarce and vital raw material to produce fuel are not ruled out.
 
We have come to the end of the Pan American Games; I am going to miss them.
 
Cuba won the first place in track and field, with 12 gold medals. As a country, it ranked second at the XV Pan American Games with a total of 59 gold medals, preceded only by theUnited Stateswhich won 97; in other words, they won 1.64 gold medals for each one that was won by our country. But theUnited Stateshas 26 times more inhabitants thanCuba. According to conservative figures, they won one medal per every 3.09 million inhabitants; we won one per every 195 thousand.
 
On 59 occasions we heard the spirited notes of the Cuban National Anthem playing. In spite of everything!

FIDEL CASTRO is president of Cuba.