14ymedio, Havana, 14 November 2023 — The Cuban Chess Federation remains inflexible about the conditions it imposed last October on emigrated players who want to participate in the Island’s national championship. The organization will evaluate two exceptions: Leinier Domínguez and Yuniesky Quesada, but only if they agree to leave the US Federation, while definitively ruling out the inclusion of Lázaro Bruzón for “being disrespectful.”
In any case, the participation of the three best Cuban chess players in the national contest, which will be held in 2024, is unlikely. Domínguez is not only the second best chess player in the United States — a newly won position in that country’s national tournament — but he has achieved a remarkable position internationally (he is the thirteenth best chess player in the world), which he will not abandon to play again with the restrictive Cuban Federation.
Quesada and Bruzón play with similar success in tournaments of much smaller caliber. In addition to the rigid nature of the conditions, the authoritarian tone expressed by the national chess commissioner, Carlos Rivero, in a lightning interview he gave to the State newspaper Granma, left no doubt: those who “earn the right” will be able to return.
Domínguez and Quesada are eligible because they “emigrated with an ordinary passport” and will be allowed “to re-affiliate
Domínguez and Quesada are eligible because they “emigrated with an ordinary passport” and will be allowed — if they request it — to “re-affiliate,” as long as they renounce “representing other flags.” “As for Bruzón, who has been disrespectful to the Federation and the Inder, we don’t think he is interested in doing it,” Rivero said.
The results of the national championship will depend on whether emigrants can use the Cuban flag in the Games of the Future of Kazan 2024 — a sporting event with which Vladimir Putin aspires to reintegrate Russia into the sports scene, despite the opposition of the International Olympic Committee — and other international competitions.
Rivero admitted that he has had “exchanges with some emigrated chess players,” without giving names or clarifying whether Domínguez or Quesada have been interested in the proposal of the Cuban Federation. Nor did he clarify whether the agency has contacted, for its part, those it considers eligible for the contest.
Since the announcement of the measure, which opened the doors of the tournament to any emigrant — as long as they comply with the aforementioned demands — none of the chess players has publicly declared their interest in returning. Only Bruzón has alluded to the measure, which he did not hesitate to criticize on his social networks, making it clear that he was not interested in participating.
Since the announcement of the measure, which opened the doors of the tournament to any emigrant, none of the chess players has publicly declared their interest in returning
“What does it mean to have a ’disrespectful attitude’?” asked Bruzó. “Does it mean that the Cuban people are in a horrible situation, that there are no medicines, no food, that the salary is not enough for anyone to survive, that the majority of young people and everyone is in the process of leaving or has already left?”
The grand master stressed that the leaders “have sunk the Cuban people into maximum poverty and despair and know what they have to do: make a radical change in the system.” “What adjectives can we use for those people? Disrespectful? Liars? Disrespecting is what they do, laughing at the Cuban people, continuing to speechify and feed false hopes that never materialize,” he added.
After the wave of repression unleashed by the regime after the protests of 11 July 2021, Bruzón declared that it was difficult for him to “maintain a rational opinion in the face of so much injustice.” “I don’t know those people (the protesters), but I do know that no one should go to jail or be banished for thinking differently. So much crime can’t be eternal,” he said.
In 2020, when the grand master officially asked the Federation for his “transfer” to represent the United States – where Domínguez had already played since 2017 – the institution published a statement denouncing Bruzón, claiming that he lent himself to the “scourge of theft and the commercialization of athletes” by “the richest countries,” such as the United States. The Federation regretted “such outrages” and promised that Bruzón’s absence would not be an obstacle to maintaining the “prestige of the homeland.”
Translated by Regina Anavy
COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.