Consequences of the “Special Period”

The decade of 1990s of the last century was one of the most difficult periods Cuba has gone through. On top of the strangulating U.S. economic blockade there was the fall of the Soviet Union (USSR) and the disappearance of the socialist camp. This left the country hard hit economically as more than 75 percent of trade was with the USSR and other countries that were members of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance. It marked the beginning of a new stage, officially called the Special Period, characterized by a profound lack of resources, raw materials and products of all kinds. In short, from one day to the next Cuba was virtually alone against the U.S. empire.

Many sectors were affected by this crisis and sports was no exception. Sports equipment grew scarce (gloves, bats, balls, hoops, racquets, mats, uniforms, nets, etc.). Sports agreements that were in place with some countries disappeared. The athletes who as part of their training toured and competed in Europe, mainly in the socialist countries, found themselves also affected and experiencing a deficit in sports achievement. It was necessary to start practically from zero and develop new strategies to compensate for these adversities.

Despite these problems, the National Institute for Sports, Physical Education and Recreation (INDER) was tasked with further developing sports, not only from a competitive standpoint, but as an expression of the way of life of an entire people, the struggle for the ideas they defend. In the decade referred to as the special period, this activity was greatly expanded. Training plans continued to be improved, physical activity continued to encouraged in the most remote parts of the country and the technical level of coaches and trainers continued to be raised. The culmination of this strategy was that Cuba was reaffirmed as the number one sporting power in Latin America and second in the world among the developing countries.

It is worth pointing out that it was in this decade that three outstanding figures in the history of athletics in Cuba and the world appeared. They are Ana Fidelia Quirot, Ivan Lázaro Pedroso Soler and Javier Sotomayor.


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