by Agustín Blázquez with the collaboration of Jaums Sutton

For those who thought that the Orioles baseball game in Havana was going to be an opportunity for people-to-people contact that will help the objective of opening up that society, they are, sadly, quite mistaken.

Castro, as he did with the Pope’s visit, has to keep everything under control. Foreign journalists with their camera lenses are going to be reporting the event and he - as the absolutist tyrant – cannot afford the slightest sign of dissent. For Cuban Americans, who are acquainted with this process, it is not surprising that he did not allow the average Cuban citizen to buy a ticket to watch the game. Does that sound like a non-political event?

What is surprising is the lack of outrage by the Orioles and their guests or even from the Clinton Administration, that such an affront is committed against the baseball-loving Cubans. Is it fair to say that the motivation of this silence is political?

So, Castro filled the 50,000-seat Estadio Latinoamericano – built in happier times - with his pre-selected guests. This revolutionary accomplishment was thanks to the Communist Party and other official organizations, including the Castro-controlled trade unions, all of which distributed the tickets. I would like to clarify for the uninformed reader that these "unions" are one more arm of the repressive regime against the interests of the workers. And that the ones in charge of these "unions" are Castro cronies. So, all the tickets available for this game went to people that Castro trusted politically. Therefore, it was about politics.

At all events in Cuba, crowd control is very sophisticated. The average citizen is well trained by their (required) participation in the marathon rallies at which Castro might speak for 8 hours in Revolution Square – also built before Castro. They know their place, what to say and for whom they have to cheer. They know they have to stay in the background, because Castro’s cronies always occupy the front - for the Pope and for the Orioles. Castro has to orchestrate everything to preserve his false image for the international community. With Castro, it is always about politics.

The make up of the crowd at the games on Sunday was typical, with the exception of 75 uninformed American children and their chaperones that Orioles’ owner Peter Angelos used for his political charade – priceless publicity! What they will learn from their once-in-a-lifetime experience is what a Castro event’s fake exterior looks like (for what that’s worth, because it seemed real to them). If he wanted to do something useful for these kids, he should have given them season tickets for Camden Yards. Maybe he still should do that to make up for what he did to them.

The same crowd of useful fools attended, including Hollywood luminaries – who have not the slightest idea of what life is really like for the verboten ordinary Cubans under Castro’s repressive regime. These guests travel to Cuba and are in the elite. They are treated like royalty and given everything that is forbidden in Castro’s apartheid society. And afterwards they go around the world insulting Castro’s victims by nauseatingly singing the praises of his revolution and repeating the same myths of his "accomplishments." It is all for a political purpose.

So, despite an avalanche of protests, the Orioles are participating in the politics of it all under the banner of "friendship." But if they are so friendly, why do they accept to play for a stadium full of elitist cronies? Where is the "people-to-people contact"? The real Cubans are banned from the stadium and the secret police and the paramilitary rapid deployment brigades are keeping them separated. The Orioles are participating and collaborating with Castro’s apartheid. But, well, it is all about politics.

And that politics stinks.

Playing Castro’s game is as offensive to Cubans as playing with the Nazis would be to a Jew. American insensitivity to the feelings of Cubans is reaching dangerous and offensive proportions. It has become a fad to defy moral principles and the law to mingle with the tyrant while ignoring his victims. That is bad politics.

Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig said in relation to this game, "If this produces the kind of human results that we’re all hoping it does, this could be something really big. I’m very proud of the role we will play in doing something constructive that that transcends baseball." It transcends baseball all the way to politics.

The politics of constructive engagement with Castro have been misguided since the beginning and the human results are obvious. In spite of all the overtures from the international community, Castro is as intolerant to democracy and free enterprise open to all Cubans as he was in 1959. Visits by the Pope and the Orioles are not going to change the old tyrant who still keeps yelling hysterically "Socialism or Death!" Neither the politics of religion nor of sports can change his ways. Castro will die being a tyrant because of his political intransigence. So, after all:

"It’s just about politics, stupid."

ABIP 1999

Agustín Blázquez, Producer/Director of the documentary COVERING CUBA

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