‘New Cars’ Given to Cuban Athletes, Who Then Thank Fidel Castro

Among those who received cars this time are the taekwondo player Rafael Alba and the four-time Olympic champion Mijaín López. (HIT)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 12 January 2022 — A row of shiny cars parked at the entrance of the Ciudad Deportiva (Sports City), in Havana, caught the attention of passers-by on Wednesday. In social networks, an Internet user shared images of the singular scene with a text that read: “Mercedes-Benz for our Cuban Olympic champions.”

The news was confirmed by the JIT digital site this afternoon, which specified that the delivery occurs thanks to “an agreement of the Executive Committee of the Council of Ministers.” Cars of various makes, not just Mercedes-Benz, were assigned “free of charge” to “renowned sports personalities,” the publication notes.

Among the athletes benefited are Serguei Torres, Fernando Dayán, Julio César La Cruz, Andy Cruz, Arlen López and Roniel Iglesias, Juan Miguel Echevarría, Maikel Massó and Yaimé Pérez, as well as Omara Durand and his guide Yuniol Kindelán, Leonardo Díaz, Robiel Yankiel Sol and Leinier Savón.

According to JIT, the canoeist Serguei Torres, who was the Olympic champion in Tokyo 2020, spoke on behalf of “the stimulated ones” in an event that brought together several officials in the Sports City: “To express thanks for this gesture, turned into reality in the midst of harsh circumstances for the country, it means recognizing once again the priority assigned to a sport that owes everything to the Revolution and its undefeated Commander in Chief Fidel Castro Ruz.”

Also receiving cars this time were the taekwondo practitioner Rafael Alba, the shooter Leuris Pupo, the judoka Idalys Ortiz and the wrestlers Reineris Salas, Luis Alberto Orta, as well as the four-time Olympic champion Mijaín López.

Official  media in media also reported the news. It specified that they were “new cars,” and that the Granma discus thrower Leonardo Díaz Aldana, who won bronze in throwing the disc at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, received one of the vehicles. In addition, it was reported that the athlete had received “a Ventus range wheelchair,” donated by the German prosthetic firm Ottobock.

A few months ago, other images of “awards” to athletes generated a wave of memes and criticism on social networks when, on their return from the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, the athletes received as a stimulus in their community a basket with taro, yuccas, two packages of sausage, a carton of eggs, two bottles of oil, a cake, detergent, deodorant, pumpkin and bananas.

In 2017, a group of Cuban coaches and athletes from eleven disciplines who won medals at the Olympic, Paralympic and World Games received Chinese cars as a “stimulus to honor” and recognition of their results.

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