Cuban Baseball Leaders Punish Four Official Journalists

Sports journalists who were critics of the Elite League were not invited to the press conference this Monday. (Cubadebate)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Madrid, 11 October 2022 — Whether it  was appropriate, in the midst of Cuba’s economic crisis, to spend money on 5,400 uniforms for a new baseball tournament, is a matter for a long debate; but that the creation of the Elite League will take its toll on the authorities seems beyond doubt. On this occasion, it was the sports leaders who applied information censorship… to their own press.

The sports journalists Boris Luis Cabrera Acosta, Joel García, Norland Rosendo González and Jhonah Díaz González weren’t invited this Monday to the press conference of the National Baseball Commission, in which the president of the firm Teammate, based in San Marino, gave explanations personally — after flying from Italy — for the delay in the arrival of the uniforms that caused the postponement of the competition.

They are not just any reporters. These are the journalists of Juventud Rebelde, Cubadebate, Trabajadores and Prensa Latina: the main media of the ruling party at the state level. They all had something in common: they had criticized the Elite League from the pages of their newspapers, which is probably why they were excluded from the press conference.

“This morning an exchange took place in the Adolfo Luque Hall of the Latin American stadium among the directors of the company Teammate and several ’chosen’ journalists, to explain the reason for the delay in uniforms and other sports equipment, which has made it impossible to begin the so-called Elite League,” Boris Luis Cabrera Acosta wrote.

The Cubadebate journalist is the only one who has explicitly alluded to his exclusion, although, in a much more cryptic way, so did Jhonah Díaz González, who, quoting his other colleagues on his Facebook account, published an image that reads: “Great idea: divide and you will conquer.” Although he refuses to explain himself further, there are those who understand it well, such as the former Granma photojournalist Ricardo López Hevia, who answers him: “The method is historic… If you criticize, you don’t ride.” To which the editor of Prensa Latina responds: “The ironic thing — at least in my case — is that right now I’m set up. They may notify me and make me the subject of a trend: ’you’re not going’.”

The users who have commented on Boris Luis Cabrera’s publication are much more numerous: more than 500 people are surprised, outraged or reproachful for what the sports columnist explains as a “bread and circus show. The hand-picked journalists take care of their trips by tooth and nail. Every day they move further away from the truth,” writes a commentator. Another, with a firmly revolutionary speech, doesn’t hesitate to turn to Castro to show the exit door to the sports authorities if they don’t want to expose themselves to a lack of confidence from “above.”

“If I stand by Fidel’s words, this official is now superfluous in his position: ’Revolution is never to lie or violate ethical principles; it’s a deep conviction that there is no force in the world capable of crushing the force of truth and ideas.’ Someone from “above” has to read this and take action on the matter or you lose all faith in…,” he says, leaving the end of the sentence for someone who gets it to fill in.

The date of the first Elite League is still up in the air, because, with or without the press, what the authorities weren’t able to offer was a new date. Alessandro Tommasi, the director of Teammate, who was able to arrive in time to face the charge against his company, considered it “very important” with his trip to Cuba “to talk about the delay of the League.” Rafael Llames said that Lantia Marítima was committed to transporting the cargo, with September 28 as the arrival date.

“We thought that everything was coming; the Federation couldn’t really check what we had there because of the hurricane. The warehouses were closed, and this couldn’t be verified until several days later. Then came the clothes for the referees and other items such as pants, backpacks, briefcases, etc.” It wasn’t very clear what is missing, apparently a package, but  it’s true that Llames said: “We don’t want to predict when the League could start until everything is reviewed. We can assure you that we’re working intensively on this matter.”

Then came the speeches and how happy Teammate is to work with Cuba, the country that makes them happiest, they said. But the controversy hasn’t stopped, and there are still many who don’t quite understand the reason for ordering such a quantity of garments from a foreign company, rather than being able to manufacture the uniforms on the Island, favouring its fabric production and saving on imports. “Let them do a review, and if they didn’t make an offer within our country, let them throw it all away,” proposed a follower when the postponement of the tournament was announced last Thursday due to the absence of the imported clothes.

The four castigated journalists had been very critical of the championship for different reasons, although ultimately they all ended up at the same point. Neither the background nor the shape of the Elite League convinced them, nor did they like the names of the teams. The fans aren’t filling stadiums, and the Cuban sport can’t manage to keep its best athletes on the Island to stimulate a public, which in turn is unmotivated.

Now to the chain of events is added not only the uncertainty about when the uniforms will arrive and what the calendar of the competition will be, but whether the authorities are lying. “I only want to remember that on September 22, six days before the arrival of that first shipment and seven days before his appearance on the Roundtable show, national commissioner Juan Reinaldo Pérez Pardo had assured me that everything was in the country, as I published that day on my Facebook profile,” says Cabrera Acosta.

Translated by Regina Anavy


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