Fidel Castro and Cuban Climbers

by Mick Ryan Fidel Castro “The Revolution was the work of climbers and cavers,” Fidel Castro once said, now the Cuban government are trying to crack down on Cuban climbers according to a front page article in yesterdays Wall Street Journal. “As Cubans begin contemplating life after Fidel Castro, rock climbing has emerged as an improbable political battleground between the government and young Cubans eager to embrace the latest foreign fashions. In 2003, amid a broad crackdown on civil liberties and fraternizing between tourists and Cubans, the government announced that rock climbers henceforth would be required to obtain a special permit. But the government has never granted the required permit to the many climbers who have requested one. Many Cubans and foreigners have continued climbing. ” Many climbers have experienced Cuba?s Valle de Viñales, a well known limestone climbing destination, and Cuba has a growing number of climbers who are increasingly getting hassle from the authorities for ´fraternising´ with foreigners. “Adrián Pérez Martínez, a 20-year-old art teacher with a joker tattooed on his shoulder, says that police showed up at his house recently to warn him against climbing, especially with foreigners. “Good Cubans don´t do this,” he says they told him. “Climbers use drugs. And you shouldn´t take foreigners to militarily significant areas.” Indeed, some caves in the climbing area are designated as civil-defense sites in the event of a U.S. invasion. ” Cuba and the full article at