Monday, March 16, 2009

Cuban baseball slavery, now playing in San Diego

This post will be updated and remain at the top of the blog for the duration of the day. Click here for a FACT SHEET about Cuban baseball.

Take me out of the ball game,
to roam freely, I’m not allowed.
Not to get peanuts or cracker jack,
fidel will be angry if I don’t go back.

Let me walk, walk, walk in the city,
if I defect it’s no shame.
For it’s one, two, three steps, I’m gone,
from the old ball game.

Click image to enlarge

The second edition of the World Baseball Classic is underway. Some of the best players from the world's baseball playing countries are playing in what should be an enjoyable international event. But these events are very strange for me as a Cuban-American. It's hard for Cuban-Americans to root for the Cuban team. That's because one of the cornerstones of the Castro regime’s international propaganda is the disproportionate success of Cuba’s athletic teams. Beneath the gold medals and accolades however lies a dark side to Cuba’s athletic programs. Like all Cubans, the country’s athletes' freedom of movement is controlled.

Cuba is one of the few countries in the world that prohibits its citizens from leaving without government permission, a violation of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Because Cuba’s athletic teams compete internationally the participants are constantly shadowed by members of Cuba’s state security apparatus. The primary objective of Cuban state security is to prevent defections which embarrass the Castro regime and deplete the country of athletic talent. In Democratic countries like the United States this presents a perverse situation where Cuban athletes are basically deprived of their rights to move freely. If an athlete does manage to defect his family is not permitted to leave Cuba as a form of punishment. Often Cuban defectors must then pay human smugglers to extract their families from the island.

Like other aspects of life in Cuba, the lack of freedom of movement is clouded by regime propaganda. News media that cover international sporting events rarely mention the strict security and efforts taken by the regime to prevent Cuban athletes from abandoning their teams in search of freedom. That's why we are doing a blogburst about the situation.

We're asking blogs from around the country and around the world to post the truth about Cuban athletics. We'll be posting links and excerpts of those posts here at Bloggers United for Cuban Liberty and Babalu Blog.

We're also asking you readers to get involved. Read the blogs we link to, write letters to the editors of your newspapers, especially if you live in southern California.


Ziva posts about Cuba's baseball slavery at Blog for Cuba. An excerpt:
Cubans love of baseball, just as ours here in the states, was born as a national expression of love for individual freedom and independence. It represents the exhilarating hope of personal success that requires the kind opportunities only found in a free society where the rule of law supports the right of the individual...

Read the rest here.


Thanks to Ernesto at Penúltimos Días for linking to the blogburst and bringing our attention to the following article in El Nuevo Herald which I have translated.
Isolation and mystery surround the Cuban team


Like an inaccessible island, that was the Cuban team before and after their first game of the second round on U.S. soil.

The veil of mystery surrounding the Antillean squad, regarded as state property, became even thicker and more intractable yesterday afternoon at Petco Park, where Cuba continues its participation in the World Baseball Classic.
The 6-0 defeat at the hands of Japan didn’t help either.

With the same speed with which they fanned on eight occasions before Daisuke Matsuzaka, the Cuban team left the premises. "They left right after the game. They didn’t shower or anything. They went quickly to the hotel'', said a World Baseball Classic’s security official.

The manager Higinio Velez stayed behind and faced the press for about five minutes before leaving the site.

Cuban suspicion was present even before the team was selected to come to Petco Park.
The instructions were clear: no contact with the press before the game.

An attempt by a handful of journalists trying to contact the team doctor, Antonio Castro Soto, the son of Fidel Castro, was prevented by Velez.

"Get out of here. You cannot be here. Go away I'm going to call security to throw you out!’’ said the Cuban manager.

The area was not supposed to be off limits to the media, but a member of the tournament’s security group supported Vélez.

The officer said, “I was told that the power rests with the team.”

Cuba brought its own set of tournament rules, which make it unique among other teams.

Unlike others teams where each player has his own room, the Cuban organizing committee decided to put two players in each room.

Likewise, Cuba, as it did in Mexico during the first round, held no batting practice before the game on the field, but instead in the internal batting cages boxes, which are indoors.

The differences don’t end there.

Not until an hour before the game, when all non-players must leave the field, does the Cuban team take infield practice.

Cuba became the only team in the tournament in which the manager is not monitoring batting practice, but instead making sure that the media do not talk to the club's medical team and that the players do not mingle with fans and acquaintances.

Still, Frederich Cepeda was taken up by the noisy fans who, dressed in the Cuban flag and were above the first base dugout, they asked him, one of the best players of the tournament thus far, for autographs.

The Cuban team will be in the U.S. until at least Thursday. But the aura of silence and secrecy with which it wants to surround this talented set of athletes will remain much longer.


Thanks to Jose of for linking to the Blogburst.


The inimitable Alfredo Pong draws a cartoon about the plight of Cuban ballplayers:


Fausta links to our blogburst here.

UPDATE: links to our blogburst here.


castro death watch links to the blogburst and rightly says:

...nobody seems to give a rat’s behind about a Cuban prison that travels the world.

Conversa Cuba Companioni dedicated his blog talk radio show yesterday to talking about castro's Cuban baseball slavery.


Jorge Costales links to the blogburst.


Pat Dollard links to the blogburst.


Wall Street Cafe links to the blogburst.


Jose Reyes of writes a great post.

This post will be updated and remain at the top of the blog for the duration of the day. Click here for a FACT SHEET about Cuban baseball.


Anonymous said...

Great work Pong

Anonymous said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


bathmate said...

As always an excellent posting.The
way you write is awesome.Thanks. Adding more information will be more useful.