Unfair, unwise decision
BY OSCAR ESPINOSA CHEPE
The decision by the U.S. Treasury Department to bar a team of Cuban baseball players from participating in the World Baseball Classic in March, is to the great majority of Cubans a wrong and incomprehensible step.
In this untenable manner, politics are mixed with sports and, in the process, the totalitarian government in Havana is provided with good arguments to continue to cultivate the climate of tension between Cuba and the United States it so needs to maintain its absolute power.
The players in no way represent the authorities; they represent their people in a sport that is innate to our culture and our most intimate traditions and enjoyment. We musn’t forget that many of the stars who today succeed in U.S. Major League Baseball—and who continue to be our pride—emerged not very long ago from the national championships on Cuban soil.
Those of us who live on this island are thrilled by the performances of Orlando ‘‘El Duque’’ Hernandez and Jose Ariel Contreras that helped the Chicago White Sox become Major Leagues champions. Their triumphs are ours. It has always been so when it comes to the success of athletes, and surely this is a feeling shared by the ball players who remain on this side of the Straits of Florida.
To solve this tiresome issue, an intermediate solution might be created by forming a team with players who live in Cuba and the United States. It would be marvelous and edifying to see the aforementioned pitchers accompanied by figures such as Livan Hernandez, Rafael Palmeiro, Ray Orduez, Yulieski Gourriel, Pedro Luis Lazo, Michel Enriquez and others. A commission of experts could form the team on the basis of sports merit only, without political or other considerations.
We’re pleased to learn that many members of the U.S. Congress understand the unfairness of the measure taken by the Treasury Department and have raised their voices in protest.
We are sure that the people of the United States, who, like the people of Cuba, are great baseball fans, cannot understand such an absurd decision, which at the same time gives the totalitarian regime in Cuba the arguments that will permit it to continue cultivating intolerance and confrontation.
Let us hope that common sense and rationality will overcome on this occasion, so that neither the sport nor the Cuban people will suffer.
Oscar Espinosa Chepe, an economist and independent journalist in Cuba, was sentenced to 20 years in prison in March 2003. In November 2004, he was released on parole until authorities “consider he has regained his health.’’