A Beating of Home Runs and Posters for the Cuban Baseball Team in Miami

The cameras avoided focusing on part of the public behind home plate, but posters saying “Cuba Libre” and “Down with the Dictatorship” could also be read. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 19 March 19, 2023 — Rain splashed down on the game between the United States and Cuba in the World Baseball Classic. The match took place this Sunday afternoon at LoanDepot Park in Miami, but for Cuban spectators the intense downpours in Havana, together with the blackouts, made it difficult to enjoy a game that ended 14-2 in favor of the United States. The most important “plays,” however, did not take place on the ground.

A “beating” of posters was seen throughout the game, and an important moment occurred when the artist Danilo Maldonado, El Sexto, threw himself onto the field to protest, with a sign that said: “Freedom for the Cuban prisoners of July 11.” Instantly, hundreds of people began to shout “Freedom” to support the artist, who was quickly taken off the field by stadium security.

Almost at the end of the game, the writer and journalist Carlos Manuel Álvarez also ran a stretch on the field raising the Cuban flag. At another moment a fan came onto the field but did not carry anything in his hands. Both were approached by security personnel and referees and escorted off the field.

The artist Danilo Maldonado, ’El Sexto’, launches himself onto the field to protest with a sign that said: “Freedom for Cuban prisoners on July 11.” The current score: #Cuba 2 #USA 13

Meanwhile, in Cuba since the day before, the sky did not portend  anything good in Havana. The constant rain sunk the official plan to install giant screens in key points of the city. La Piragua* was a flooded area with kiosks closed just a few minutes before the start of the game, while some spectators took refuge in the closed room of the Yara cinema to follow the historic confrontation on its big screen.

“There were a few minutes left; friends were already gathered and we had even made an effort and bought some beer, but the power went out,” lamented Joseíto, a resident of the neighborhood of La Timba in the municipality of Plaza de la Revolución who had spent “a week planning to have no interruption” this Sunday afternoon and enjoy the World Baseball Classic, but the lack of power canceled his plans.

Shortly after the start of the game, the shouts of “Patria y Vida,” “Libertad” and “Díaz-Canel singao [motherfucker]” could be heard through the transmission of the Tele Rebelde channel, and despite the fact that the camera zoomed out and avoided focusing on part of the public behind home plate, posters could also be read with the phrase “Cuba Libre.” Between pauses in the game, the regime constantly transmitted advertising about the upcoming elections.

When the United States scored 9 runs at the end of the fifth inning, influencer Alex Otaola was also seen on national television behind the home plate area carrying a sign in his hands with the phrase “The street is the way.” Shortly after, the singer Dianelys Alfonso, La Diosa [The Goddess], was in the same place with another message in her hands: “Freedom.”

Before the start of the game, about 50 people demonstrated against “the dictatorship and in favor of the people of Cuba” in the vicinity of the stadium.

The Democracy Movement, organizer of the protest, placed a series of photographs of children with their names and white crosses, and a banner that read: “Castro, do you recognize these children? You must recognize them because you murdered them,” in reference to the “March 13 tugboat massacre” as it is called.

Another banner in English, with a heading that said “dictator Castro and President Biden,” included the petitions of the Democracy Movement and other exile organizations: freedom for all political prisoners, including “children,” free elections and the end of the division of Cuban families.

If those requirements are met, “then we will play too,” the poster said, referring to the World Baseball Classic in Miami with the participation of Cuba for the first time in more than two decades.

After this semifinal between the United States and Cuba, Mexico and Japan will play on Monday to define the other team that will contest the final on Tuesday.

*Translator’s note: La Piragua is a large plaza-type open space along Havana’s Malecon overlooked by the Hotel Nacional.

Translated by Regina Anavy


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