Ana Fidelia: Fidel Castro cried for me

We arrived at her house around 9:30 in the morning. Ana Fidelia was taking a shower, after her daily run, because, in her opinion, it makes her feel well and prevents diseases. In a room full of medals, trophies and photos with the Commander in Chief, there began the interview, which lasted a bit over an hour and made me hear a fully different voice that could not hide her emotion, since Fidel’s name was mentioned. There were tears on Fidel’s face the day he decorated her, and there were tears on Ana Fidelia’s too, when she referred to Fidel.

-When did a young woman from Palma Soriano manage to become a sports heroine?

After the triumph of the Revolution, under the doctrine of our Commander that sport is a right of the people, there began the possibilities to practice sports, for both health and high performance. I am a result of that well- thought-out, staggered and inverted-pyramid  system of our Revolution, like so many thousands of athletes who were attracted through talent selection of Physical Education. It was just in that subject that I started to stand out and the professor took me to the sports area of my hometown, Palma Soriano, Santiago de Cuba, and they saw that I was a talented girl. There they started to follow me up and I went through the different schools existing here in Cuba: EIDE (Sports Initiation Schools), ESPA (Higher School for Athletic Improvement), until reaching the national team.

It’s necessary to highlight that coming from a sporting family helped me too. My sister was a member of the national basketball team, my brother practiced sports too and my father was a professional boxer in the 1960s. I did not have the chance to see him; his friends told me that he stood out in his specialty, but could not reach a bit further because discipline is fundamental for whatever thing in life.

-And how disciplined were you? When did you understand you had a future in sports?

When I started in sports in my home town, my first trainer, Juan Heredia Salazar, used to go to see my mother every day and told her the conditions that I had and that I had to practice, but when you are a child, you only want to play, since you are still unaware of what you want in the future. So, I used to go to the training two days and missed it three, and my trainer used to look for me and talk to my mother. He told her that I was a talent and that I could participate in the pioneer games, which were held in Hungary in 1975. Participating in that competition and winning the bronze medal was what made me start to become aware of what sports could mean to me, and I focused there until reaching where I reached.

-In 1993, life set you a test that, in my opinion, you overcame by far, and in that trance of your accident, Fidel addressed the doctors and told them to do everything possible to save you and that you meant a lot to both Cuba and him. What does Fidel Castro mean to you?

In my professional and personal life, I have gone through ups and downs, life isn’t all roses, and everything you intend to do entails discipline, commitment and perseverance. The people of Cuba and many people in the world know about that fatal accident I had in 1993 with 2nd and 3rd degree burns in 38 percent of my body, and I was always accompanied, since the first hours of my accident by that person who has been unconditional to the human being: our Commander in Chief. He arrived earlier than my mother at “Hermanos Ameijeiras” Hospital, where I was hospitalized. Fidel encouraged me to fight for my life, I am aware that all the Cuban people too accompanied me, followed the news through the media and there were people who showed up at the ward to hear from me, and that was something very positive, which made it possible that I did not die and reappeared like the Phoenix.

Fidel and I are united by many things. Because of my great achievements in sports I was always lucky enough to coincide with him several times: at a decoration, a welcome to a head of state or accompanying him to the inaugurations of presidents; for example, when Fernando Alfonso Collor de Mello took office in Brazil. And at that crucial moment of my life he played a key role in my recovery, not physically, but psychologically, to fight for my life. Fidel was the medicine that I needed to save myself, he was the doctor who I needed to heal my wounds. According to some of my friends, he said at meeting: she won’t die, she and I made a pact with death and she won’t die. His help kept me alive to continue contributing achievements to my country. They were tough moments, hard moments, and that made me stronger than I was before and say: I will continue.

In a moment of so many visits that he made to me and I was awake, I told him: Commander, I will continue running, and now, to tell you the truth, I did not know if I was going to run the same way I had done before the accident. But I knew I had strength in my legs to continue representing Cuba, and I did.

I underwent countless reconstructive and aesthetic surgeries at “Ameijeiras” Hospital with great Cuban doctors who saved my life and returned me back to society again. Running again after the accident has been the greatest achievement of my sporting career, having defeated death. That can only happen in a country like ours, where everything is in favor of and for the sake of society, perhaps, in another country I could have lived, but I could have also had to show my credit card to be assisted or to pay out thousands of dollars.

I went every other day to the (operating) room to be cured under anesthesia, and so the doctors performed skin transplants. In the first stage, I remained in the hospital a year and a few months and later I went home on Fridays and returned on Mondays. I had a companion and that undoubtedly costs some thousands and therefore I should always say thank you so much to both Fidel and this people.

-Which was your first participation in an international event?

When I overcame my seriousness in the hospital and could manage on my own, I started to think about running again. I had a very strong rehab program with doctors from the Ameijeiras and the Institute of Sport Medicine and exercised in the morning and in the afternoon, but also when they were not there, I supported myself on my friends who went to visit me so they helped me do the exercises and massaged me, because the scars of the burnt grow during a year and you should always keep exercising so the damaged parts of your body begin to gain elasticity.

Before the accident I had in mind to take part in the Central American and Caribbean Games in Ponce and then I asked the Athletics Technical Commission to participate. They created all conditions for my training, which was from 7:00 to 10:00 at night, because I could not take the sunbeams. Leandro Civil Jarvés designed a preparation program for me five months before the Central American and Caribbean Games, in which I participated with many limitations, I could not move my arms, my armpits, or my neck and in spite of that, I won the silver medal with 2.05, which meant the gold medal to me, the medal of dignity, of courage, because my race only involved my legs, I couldn’t do the required movement for it.

After achieving that result in those circumstances and without the adequate preparation I convinced myself that after the surgery, I would begin my training to see what would happen. And so I did, I underwent surgical operations, which loosed my neck, my armpits, my arms and my hands, because I could hardly close them to grab the weights. When I realized that I could do all those things I told my trainer: let’s work, I will not disappoint you and we will compete.

All the tests showed that I really could, I should say that there were many people who believed that I could not accomplish it, so I said that if I could not achieve the required time, I wouldn’t participate, because of the prestige I have worldwide. But I was improving in every competition, so much so that I made a mark, which gave me the endorsement to compete in Gothenburg 1995. I also competed in Montecarlo vs my eternal rival María de Lourdes Mutola, she ran 1.57.49 and I (1.57.59), and that made me confident to strive for a medal in the world championship, which final was held on August 13 and I clinched the gold medal. Life gave me the pleasure to thank and congratulate our beloved Commander the day of his birthday with a gold medal for my country, for him and for me. I feel really proud for having given him that present in acknowledgement to all the support I received from him in the toughest moment of my life. One knows people in those circumstances and Fidel was unconditional to me in the moment I needed him. During the period when I was reported as critical every day, he used to go to the hospital, sometimes he went and when he passed through my room I was asleep, because it was the day when they cured me and I was under the effects of anesthesia, even if someone called me I could not reply. He went there many times, when I was already in an open room, and talked to my family, to me and his visit was something very special for me and my family.

-How many Russian female runners were needed to defeat Ana Fidelia?

Imagine that a country can take around three or four runners and there were three Russians who developed a team race in the 1996 Olympic Games and I had to settle for the silver medal, but I can tell you that when they ran individually I was invincible.

-From the point of view of the best athlete of Cuba for several consecutive years, what did Fidel Castro mean for Cuban sports?

Fidel means a lot for Cuban sports, since he was young, Fidel loved sports and practiced different games at the university. He played basketball, over there I have a photo of him winning the 800 meters, he also run 1500. In the few hours that he had to rest at midnight, he used to go to the Sports City (Ciudad Deportiva) to play basketball in a sort of guerrilla warfare with players from the national team and the game was never over until he picked the victory, he disliked to lose in anything.

Fidel has meant a lot for all the results of the Cuban sporting movement, he has been the main promoter of all the achievements of our sporting movement. He is not physically today, but he is still present, because his example is alive, his legacy is alive in our country, his deed is intact.

-Of the moments of satisfaction experienced with the Commander, which is the one you remember the most?

I remember them all, they are all very beautiful and have a great meaning, but the one that marked me the most and the one that makes me cry whenever it comes to my mind, and I cry because it moves me to remember that he is a person of flesh and blood, with feelings towards any human being, although he/she does not belong to his family, happened in 1993, after I returned from the Central American and Caribbean Games at the Universal Hall of FAR (Revolutionary Armed Forces), which brought together all the delegation that participated in Ponce Games and he decorated me with the Order of Sporting Merit. It seems that when he saw me, he was very sad because of the conditions in which I competed, he gave me a hug and when I went to my seat I turned around and saw tears running down his face and that’s the moment I keep with more affection, to see that he cried for me.

-Does your name have any relationship with Fidel or is it chance?

No, it’s no coincidence: my mother named me Fidelia because of Fidel. I come from a purely revolutionary family, we have a humble origin and my grandmother, my mother and my aunt were always closely linked to the causes of our Revolution.

Translated by Jorge Mesa Benjamin / CubaSi Translation Staff

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Cuba is Fidel and Fidel is Cuba

He was capable of stirring feelings in crowds and his popular summoning of forging a nation he was supported by majorities that is poor, humble, deprived.

Like that unintentionally and without thinking it, he became great. He understood workers, and stood next to peasants, he listened to intellectuals, dignified women, he filled the dreams of children with books, pencils and schools.  

The fight began in the cities and in the Sierra Maestra mountains crowned the victory that later took him to lead the destiny of a nation through the paths of right to schooling, to own lands, to factories. After that Cubans were the true owners of their Homeland, without distinctions, putting aside social classes, skin color, or the place where one was born. No more Yankees on the road, neither traitors, neither those serving the empire.

From his position as statesman looked after his people and it was this people that gave him the greatest of joys. He opened the school doors to teachers, classrooms to students, he raised awareness of scientists, the knowledge of doctors, he elevated the honor of women to unheard of heights, fields and sectors they never treaded before.

Cuba is Fidel and Fidel is Cuba, and to millions of men and women, of children and old men, he is the greatest of Cubans.  

He continued the path of the most illustrious and committed patriots, he learned from Jose Martí, and in that struggle for the definitive independence he brought along the most valuable men of his time.

I always wondered how he managed to join wills and crowds, fill squares, unite Cubans in the first call. Certainly, Fidel was not a god, he was as wonderful as real, also authentic as inexplicable. But undoubtedly, he was a giant of humility and moral, of courage and dignity that he knew - as no other - to assume that the all the glory in the world fits in a kernel of corn, like Martí said and being his most faithful pupil.  

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Photo Exhibition in Turkey Remembers Fidel

The mayor of the Turkish district of Kadikoy, in Istanbul, and Cuban ambassador to Turkey inaugurated on Sunday a photo exhibition about Fidel Castro, on the second anniversary of his death.

The municipal councilor, Aykurt Nuhoglu, referred to Fidel as the leader of the Revolution and its people', stressing the importance of passing his legacy on to the future generations, and drew a parallel with the founder of the modern Republic of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.

He praised Cuba's advances in the fields of education, culture and art, thanks to the revolutionary process led by Fidel, and also cited the important social advances that women experienced in gaining responsibilities and rights on the island.

Nuhoglu criticized the long economic blockade that the United States applied against Cuba, which still maintains all its harshness, and regretted that the current administration in Washington decided to abandon the process of normalization of bilateral relations between the two countries.

Cuban diplomat Luis Alberto Amoros thanked the mayor for celebrating this act of tribute to the historic leader of the Revolution and explained to those present the importance of Fidel's legacy at a time when a process of constitutional reform is taking place on the island.

Liliam Mendoza, parliamentarian and representative of the Young Communist League, and Marta Carvajal, journalist and director of Mundo Latino, members of the delegation that will participate in the Cuba Week organized by the solidarity movement in Turkey, were also present at the presentation of the photographic exhibition.

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World Tweet to Pay Tribute to Cuba's Historic Leader Fidel Castro

The example and endurance of Fidel Castro's ideas (1926-2016) in Cuba were the focus on Friday of messages from social media users on a worldwide tweet in honor of the historic leader of the Cuban Revolution.

The Cuban Institute of Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP) organized the meeting on its institutional Facebook and Twitter accounts, @alwayswithcuba, to commemorate on November 25 the second anniversary of the physical disappearance of the Cuban leader.

With the hashtags #AlwaysComander, #FidelCastro, #IAmFidel, #SolidarityCuba and #WeAreContunity, Cuban institutions and citizens joined the tribute with remembrances of Fidel's speeches on internationalism, solidarity and the defense of Cuba's sovereignty.

The ICAP stressed in several messages the popular and irrevocable nature of the social process developed in Cuba since January 1, 1959, with the triumph of the Revolution.

'This is the socialist and democratic revolution of the humble, with the humble and for the humble. And for this Revolution of the humble, with the humble and for the humble, we are willing to give our lives', the Cuban organization published on Twitter.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs posted on its @Cubaminrex account that 'the principles and dignity of the Cuban people are non-negotiable. The example of our #Commander-in-Chief guides every doctor, every Cuban and every noble revolutionary.

It also expressed the continuity of the Revolution.

In this regard, the Young Communists League (UJC) hifhlighted that Fidel Castro's ideology is valid in the new generations of Cubans.

Through its user @UJCuba, it also noted that Fidel was the best pupil of National Hero Jose Marti, and the legacy of the leader of the Cuban Revolution invites to reflect permanently on the validity of the Apostle in Fidel's thought.

The Ministry of Public Health recalled the internationalist principle always defended by the Commander in Chief.

In its account @MINSAPCuba it siad, 'In international relations we practice our solidarity with actions, not with beautiful words(...),' a fragment of one of the Cuban leader's speeches.

The Ministry of Culture agreed on @CubaCultura that 'the father of the Cuban Revolution has extended a generous hand to needy peoples and has placed solidarity and integration at the center of Cuba's foreign policy.

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Art Instructors, the 15 Year-old Waltz

Making it massive, to share, to promote, to create are some of the words for this celebration and the topic: The best of Cuban culture...

The objective of art instructors, the amateur movement, the Culture Houses, are present in the Speech to Intellectuals given by the leader of the Cuban Revolution in date as early as 1961:

“… One of the Revolution’s fundamental purposes is to develop art and culture, in fact so that art and culture become a true patrimony of the people.

Just like we have wanted for the people a better life regarding material things, we also want for the people a better life in the spiritual realm, we want for the people a better life in the field of culture. Just as the revolution is concerned about the development of conditions and the strengths that allow the people the satisfaction of all their material needs, we also want to develop the conditions that allow the people the satisfaction of all their cultural needs.”

It’s easy to recognize that very feeling in the optimism with which Fidel welcomed the second graduation of the schools of instructors that he encouraged in the beginnings of the third millennium:

“It’s amazing the path that opens up toward the training of sensibility and appreciation of arts among the youngest and towards the ambitious purpose of creating a massive and comprehensive general culture in our people.

“A culture that is not only artistic, but also historical, scientific, economic, geographical, environmental and in the most diverse fields of knowledge, with a deep humanist meaning.”

It’s in fact to instruct, of training the aesthetic pleasure, the artistic sensibility of Cubans, it’s to elevate to the maximum the critic capacity to tell apart between banality and art, between vulgarity and creation, thus was created the José Martí Brigade of Art Instructors, an idea born from Fidel that in 2019 will reach its 15th anniversary.

What are we going to dance in that party? Hopefully, rumba and mambo and the Waltz of Butterflies no wonder we had Lecuona and everything that’s good and beautiful that we Cubans have been able to create, the wonderful heritage we have amassed for centuries, before portable speakers came into fashion and certain sectors forgot that what’s national, and authentic transcends and becomes universal.

Once again in Cuba we bet for the amateur movement, the workshops at Culture Houses, the visualization of groups displaying authentic Cuban features, facilities are remodeled and reviving the true Cuban essence is paramount. It’s urgent.

The challenge is to make massive the best of the Cuban culture, the treasure of our authentic groups, and the repertoire of creations that have grown in this country where talent is widespread.

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Vietnam Inaugurates Fidel Castro Square

Hanoi, Sep 15 (Prensa Latina) As a symbol of the friendship between Vietnam and Cuba, forged in times of war and peace, a square that bears the name of Fidel Castro was inaugurated in the city of Dong Ha.

Senior leaders of the two countries also unveiled there a bronze bust of whoever was a fervent contributor and admirer of Vietnam's heroic deed for independence and reunification.

Fidel Castro felt an enormous admiration and affection for this people and a great respect for President Ho Chi Minh, said the First Vice President of Cuba, Salvador Valdes, at the opening ceremony.

This square is a monument to the fraternity between the two countries and a reaffirmation of the common will to strengthen our political, economic and cooperation relations, said the also member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC).

The president of the Popular Committee (government) of the province, Nguyen Duc Chinh, stressed that the esplanade is open just 45 years after Fidel Castro passed through Quang Tri (its capital is Dong Ha), the first line of fire in the fight for independence.

During his visit in September 1973, the then Cuban Prime Minister became the first and only statesman who during the war crossed Parallel 17 and was in Quang Tri, even under the threat of U.S. bombing.

Valdes was accompanied by the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Marcelino Medina; the director of Asia and Oceania of the Foreign Ministry, Alberto Blanco; Ambassador Lianys Torres, and senior leaders of the PCV and those two countries.

In all the meetings, the hosts highlighted that Fidel's visit in 1973 marked a milestone in the exemplary relations of fraternity and cooperation between the two countries.

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Why is there a single party in Cuba?

Excerpt from speech by Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro Ruz closing the National Assembly of People’s Power Third Legislature’s 10th period of ordinary sessions.

Multiparty systems are imperialism’s great tool to keep societies fragmented, divided in a thousand pieces; making societies incapable of solving problems and defending their interests.

A country divided in ten pieces is the perfect country to dominate, to subjugate, because the nation is without will, since the will of the nation is divided in many fragments; the strength of the nation is divided in many fragments; all intelligence is divided; and what it has is a constant, interminable battle among parts of the society.

A Third World country cannot afford this luxury. Actually many do give themselves this luxury, clearly for quite a while they have, and for quite a while a large part have been subjugated and dominated.

Clearly, for a society that must confront the problems of underdevelopment and develop under the difficult conditions for development existent in today’s world, unity is essential…

… Thus I have the most profound conviction that the existence of one party is, and must be, for a long historical period - no one can predict how long – the form of political organization of our society.

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In the 92nd Anniversary of his Birth: Fidel, a World Paradigm

He is outstanding for his exemplary conduct and intelligence, firmness and dedication to work, his ethical, human and solidary behavior, his vision of the world.

That afternoon of August 13th, 2016 a collective question rose at Karl Marx Theater: Will the Commander in Chief arrive? It was his 90th birthday and the children company La Colmenita had organized a great party in his honor.

Only a few more minutes before the beginning of the when the entire audience began to chant watchwords about his figure. Maybe he thought - in the simplicity and modesty he always showed - that it would have been disrespectful not to thank a gesture like that to the young artists.

Accompanied by Raúl, president Maduro and his wife Cilia, Fidel appeared smiling, proud of that childhood for whose rights he had always fought.

Today, exactly after two years, and for many is still among us the undefeated Commander in Chief, the man who rallied multitudes seeking a dream, woke up the conscience of a people and led it to the final victory.

In Fidel are reunited the freedom ideas of the martyrs of the Homeland, from Varela, Luz y Caballero, Maceo, and Martí. In the lives of each of these men – as well as so many others who even gave up their lives – is the root and foundation of everything he did for a nation free and sovereign.

His personal example and intelligence, his determination and dedication to work, the ethics, human and solidary behavior, his vision of the world, made of him a world paradigm.

For those who dreamt a different Cuba after his decease, the current road and domestic development is the expression that when ideas and principles are fair, they last in time. Consequently the current historical continuity of the Revolution.

His long speeches are astonishing and later his deep reflections. The climate, the grounds, agriculture, health, education, culture, politics. What didn’t Fidel know about? His wisdom was, truly amazing and, at the same time, he knew that it was necessary to speak to the people, to explain and support any idea, regardless how insignificant it seemed.

For all that, a better date could not have been chosen to begin in Cuba the process of popular consultation for the Draft of the Constitution of the Republic, approved last July 21st and 22nd, during the First ordinary meeting of the National Assembly in its IX Legislature.

In the Main Report to the First Congress of the Party, which Fidel presented in his condition as first secretary of his Central Committee, as far back as year 1975, appeared essentials on the new Constitution, the one which was later approved in February 1976.

"Today we need a socialist Constitution that meets the characteristics of our society, with the social conscience, the ideological convictions and goals of our people. A Constitution that reflects the general laws of the society we build, the deep economic, social and political transformations done by the Revolution and the historical achievements conquered by our people. A Constitution in short that summarizes what we are today and that helps us reach what we want to be tomorrow."

The strength of such words leads us to ratify the foresight of his ideas, his experience and political commitment. On top of that idea we must place his concept of Revolution, a worthy legacy for the everyday life of all Cubans.

The idea "I am Fidel", was born in the heat of a collective feeling, he is present in each Cuban that admires his spotless behavior and personal example. The historical leader planted ideas and principles that right now have the duty and responsibility of pushing forward.

The President of the Councils of State and Secretaries, Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, has inherited the ideas of Marti, and Fidel, revolutionary and patriot, and the Cubans who today trusts that he would know how to lead our nation explicitly, convinced of the legitimacy and fairness of the cause for which the youths of the Generation of the Centennial fought lead by Fidel.

“We will be faithful to Fidel Castro's legacy, historical leader of the Revolution, and also the example, value and teachings of Raúl Castro, current leader of the revolutionary process", highlighted Díaz-Canel during his first speech before the National Assembly of People’s Power, when assuming the presidency of the Republic in April this year.

August 13th the undefeated Commander in Chief won't be physically among us. For that reason our best homage - indeed - will be to participate and intervene with solid arguments in the scheduled meetings to carry out the popular consultation on the Draft of Cuba’s New Constitution, in an attempt to improve what has been achieved in all these years of Revolution, what was his greatest work.

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