Sports and politics have a close relationship in many nations. This was especially true during the Cold War and most certainly in Cuba. Santiago Alvarez’s documentary shows the bravery of the Cuban athletes and the evil of the American enemy in trying to stop them from blowing away the world, or at least the other Caribbean nations. Evidently, the U.S. tried to stop the Cubans from participating in the 10th Central American and Caribbean Games in San Juan. Alvarez, the masterful Cuban propagandist, joined the ship (no plane for Cubans!) for its voyage to Puerto Rico, replete with scenes of seasickness and vomiting sure to inspire any communist. They are eventually let in and Alvarez shows Puerto Rico as a colonized land, powerless, impoverished, and oppressed. He has some disturbing footage, although it’s totally unexplained, of some American soldiers harassing and beating a Puerto Rican over some kind of stuff in the street. And given American behavior toward Cuba, such behavior was certainly a believable story. The athletics themselves are somewhat less interesting. I’m not sure that Cuba dominating such other athletic powerhouses as Honduras and Antigua is all the exciting, but they did bring home a lot of gold medals in those countries. The highlight of the athletics is a close focus on the footwork of many athletes, from the hammer throwers to the boxers.
Overall, a fascinating little film.