por LD Delgado (Café Fuerte)
HAVANA TIMES — Marathon runner Alberto Cuba Carrero, a Cuban athletics and track legend, decided to steer his life in a new direction and requested political asylum in Holland during a stopover in the country made during his trip back to the island.
“We are slaves of the Cuban government and I’m tired of being a slave to the Castros. When I was an athlete, all the prizes I won at marathons went directly to the hands of the government, and it’s the same today,” Alberto told CafeFuerte during a phone interview.
The 52-year-old trainer split from the 8-person group Cuban sports delegation during a stopover in Amsterdam at the close of January and requested asylum from Dutch authorities. The marathon runner was returning to Havana after working for two years as a long-distance running trainer at the Ministry of Sports in the African nation of Djibuti.
His request for political asylum was accepted for consideration by an Amsterdam court, but a decision regarding his case is now in the hands of Holland’s Immigration Services, which should announce its verdict within 45 days. In the meantime, Alberto is living in a shelter for asylum seekers.
“I’ve been pushing to be granted asylum for a month. What I told Immigration Services is a true story: the fact that human rights are not respected in Cuba,” he said.
Should his petition be denied, the athlete could appeal the ruling before Dutch courts, but his fear is that he may be deported to Cuba, like many other Cubans who have unsuccessfully attempted to be granted asylum in this European country.
“The position of Dutch authorities is incorrect. They know very little about Cuban reality and think that everything one tells them is a lie. I’m going to remain positive and fight to have Dutch authorities become acquainted with my country’s reality,” the athlete commented.
Born in Santa Clara, Cuba was a member of the national athletics team from 1984 to 1998. During this time, he set six national outdoor sport records. He was awarded a silver medal at the 10,000 meter race at the 1989 Central American and Caribbean Games. He secured international fame after winning the Pan-American Games marathon in Havana in 1991.
Alberto successfully competed in world championships and international marathons, where he rubbed elbows with the highest figures in his discipline. Following his official retirement from athletics, he became an active, award-winning participant of Marabana, the largest popular race in Cuba since 1986.
In Djibouti, he worked as a trainer in a long-distance runner school. Eight trainers from Cuba’s National Sports and Recreation Institute (INDER) are working at the Ali Sabieh Sports Training Center, where a new generation of local athletes is being coached.
Ayanleh Souleiman, 800-meter-race bronze medalist at the 2013 Moscow World Championship, was trained at that institution.
The trainer says that Cuba’s State entity Cubadeportes, which handles contracts abroad, paid him US $450 dollars a month and pocketed US $5,000.
“They’re a bunch of con artists,” he said. “Cuba signs the contracts. I never saw mine. In fact, I never signed it.”
The Other Dictator
Alberto claims his problems started when the Cuban ambassador in Djibuti, Llsuif Sadin Tasse, asked him to explain why he had a picture taken with the US ambassador.
“I went to Cuba for a one-month vacation and, when I got back, the boss we had quit and said he wasn’t coming back because the Cuban ambassador was a piece of shit. The Cuban ambassador in Dijbouti acts like a dictator,” Alberto told Café Fuerte.
Alberto claims he hadn’t deserted earlier because his father was still alive and his mother was very ill, deterring him and his brother (who is also a long-distance runner) from taking this step abroad.
“My family supports my decision now,” says Alberto, who leaves behind in Cuba a daughter and several brothers.
“If I manage to stay in Holland, I would like to continue to work as a trainer, but I’m ready to do any other job,” the athlete said.