Fidel Castro brought it off. The 11th Pan American Games in Cuba were a triumph for the home team. The country is left with new facilities for its sports program. Cuba came in first in golds for the first time, with 140 to the U.S. 130, and had a whopping 265 total medals for a small country, good for second place to the U.S., which had 352.
Canada, it should be noted, came in third in total medals and gold, ahead of Brazil and Mexico. The U.S. sent second-string teams in several sports because of conflict with other events. That may help explain the U.S. bronze in basketball and baseball, but not the U.S. gold in soccer.
For Fidel Castro, who has not seen world events or the Cuban economy go his way, it was a personal triumph. The new Cuban heavyweight boxing champion is as awesome as the old, the baseball team is as good as touted and the venerable dictator, who was everywhere, got to kiss each member of the triumphant Cuban women's volleyball team.