Cuban leader Fidel Castro says two Cuban boxers who have returned home after apparently defecting during the Pan American Games in Brazil will be treated fairly and not arrested.

Mr. Castro said in an article Sunday in a state newspaper, Juventud Rebelde, that the men will be given decent tasks for future work.

Olympic boxing champion Guillermo Rigondeaux and Erislandy Lara were found Thursday in a beach resort town near Rio de Janeiro after failing to appear for matches last month at the Pan American games in Brazil.

State media say the two arrived back in Cuba early Sunday.

Media reports say the boxers signed contracts with German boxing promoters, but apparently changed their minds and agreed to return to Cuba after being detained by Brazilian police for overstaying their visas.

Mr. Castro has blamed American money for the defections.