I am pleased to inform everyone about our recent trip to Havana, Cuba. On July 1, 2005, Master Galarraga joined me in Havana where he conducted the first Umpire Course ever given in Cuba. It was a special event because the course coincided with the 10th Anniversary of ITF in Cuba. The course went for three full days in temperatures that exceeded 35 degrees Celsius not taking into account the humidity (which was unbearable at best).

Each day, 35 instructors came to an outdoor class and went through the rules and regulations of the ITF. They were given copies of the Spanish version of our rule book to read and study. Based on the questions asked each day, it was clear that they were studying the rule book at night.

As part of the Administration, I am pleased to see the efforts being made in Cuba to integrate with the rest of the ITF and the willingness to participate in International events.

During our stay in Cuba, it was agreed that Cuba would be sending a team to Argentina this fall to compete in the Pan-American Championship. As well, ITF-Cuba has requested that the 2008 Pan-American Championship be held in Havana City, Cuba. The attendance of Cuba in the Pan-American Championship this year will mark their first participation in an international event in their history! I applaud the efforts of President Choi, Master Galarraga and Mr. Rai in supporting them by travelling to Cuba and showing them that they are part of the Taekwon-do family.

Master Galarraga observed that even with little resources, the standard of instruction and knowledge about Taekwon-do was at par with other countries. He is confident that the Cubans will do well in international competition.

On the last day, the students asked Master Galarraga to conduct a class on patterns and he obliged them. He noted that they are hungry to learn everything they can. Mr. Rai made the same observations during the classes he conducted in Cuba earlier this year.

Of special note, Mr. Reina held a demonstration for us on Saturday where over 180 students from all over Cuba came to perform patterns, self-defence, power breaking and special techniques. I noted that many of the students were wearing doboks that had been donated by Master Sanders (Holland), Mr. Morningstar (Canada), Mr. Rai (Canada), and Mr. Oh (South Korea). In fact, Mr. Reina proudly wears the dobok made by Mr. Oh for our World Championship last year with the Korean flag on one side and the Cuban on the other!

On behalf of the Cubans, I thank each of you for your generosity and support. It is through efforts such as this trip and those of people like Mr. and Mrs. Dalton to Africa that by example and not merely words we build a more peaceful world.


Michael Tibollo