Cuban Baseball Player Spends the ‘Saddest Night Of His Life’ With His Family in a Kiev Shelter

Raidel Arbelay Becerra spent this Thursday with his family, his wife and two children, in a shelter near Kiev. (Raidel Arbelay)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Angel Salinas, Mexico, 25 February 2022 — Cuban Raidel Arbelay Becerra spent “the saddest night of his life” in Kiev with his family, his wife and two children, he tells 14ymedio. This Thursday, while reporting on the presence of Russian troops in the Ukrainian capital and the bombing, a drone was shot down by the Ukrainian Air Force. The aircraft “fell 70 meters from our house and we made the decision to flee.”

Arbelay heard on the news that in the first 24 hours the Russian military deployment caused the death of 137 Ukrainians. “War has neither friends nor winners, only losers, families in mourning, mothers without children and much more,” he stresses.

The athlete arrived in Ukraine in 1996, where he met several Cubans — at least 70 are in Kiev — and “right now we are all tense because it is expected that this Friday night the city will be attacked by the Russian aggressor.” He knows that some migrants have sought refuge in the capital’s suburbs; and others, like him and his family, in the basements of houses.

Through Ukraine’s presidential spokesman, Sergei Nikiforov, Russian President Vladimir Putin was informed that they agreed to hold negotiations on the ceasefire and peace, according to RT. “There is a lot of misinformation,” says Arbelay. “This Friday we hope to leave for the area where they are not bombing.” The athlete’s plans do not change, he seeks to reach the border with Poland with his family.

In this conflict, the Cuban authorities have reiterated their support for Russia in the official media. “I am ashamed of the Government of my country”, expresses an annoyed Arbelay. He does not understand why the island supported “the decision of the Russian president to recognize the independence of Donetsk and Lugansk.”

The Cubans who are in Kiev, the player insists, have not received assistance or support to transfer them to safe areas. “The embassy hates us.” The situation at the moment is difficult, but we try to “stay very close.”

Arbelay’s children have spent an uneasy night. “They don’t understand much about the reason for this war.” The calls received by people who share the shelter in a friend’s house, confirm “shots and explosions in Oblon,” a residential neighborhood of Kiev, in addition to “battles in Dymer and Ivankiv.”


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