Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Letter to Jose de Jesus Ortiz

Dear Mr. de Jesus Ortiz,

I just finished reading your column about Cuba's inclusion to the World Baseball Classic and frankly I am astonished. Of course Cuba deserved to play from a baseball perspective but that's not the pertinent question. The Republic of South Africa was also in the field of 16 teams that participated but I doubt they would have been invited if apartheid was still the law of the land there. And surely, if that were the case, the media storm around the event would have been quite fierce. But for some reason the struggles of the Cuban people to rid themselves of the longest-standing dictatorship in hemisphere isn't of interest to "journalists" like yourself. Instead we read superficial puff pieces about how Cuba is baseball-crazed and how the underdog team had a moral victory.

In your column you quote a couple of people that claim they were rooting for the team because they wanted to separate sport from politics. The idea that this could be done is just as ridiculous today as it was during the 1936 Berlin Olympics. When you put your country's name on your chest it automatically becomes political. As for my rooting interest, as a Cuban-American I rooted against Cuba because communist regimes use sports, art, etc. as a means to trumpet the "triumphs" of their revolutions and the media is, for the most part, either too lazy or too complicit with the regimes to report the truth about those revolutions. I agree with Yiki Quintana, the color voice of the Florida Marlins on Spanish radio, when he says, "I root for Cuba to lose so that Cuba can win."

I wonder how proud Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet is of the Cuban team as he sits in prison for simply disagreeing with Fidel Castro. Or how excited Guillermo Fariñas, who is on the 50th day of a hunger strike for the right to uncensored information, is about baseball. These are the struggles that make Cuba different than the other countries participating in the classic. Why should we allow an official delegation from a country that is on our State Department's list of terrorist nations enter the country for something as trivial as a sporting event?

Your labeling of the Cuban exile community as mafia members (a nickname fidel uses for us) is repulsive and reveals the fact that you are an enabler of Castro and his regime. The real story of the WBC is how Major League Baseball muzzled peaceful protest in order to appease the dictator, Fidel Castro, while allowing the Cuban team itself to flout the rules of the tournament. On several occasions the Cuban team submitted multiple lineup cards after the deadline and on at least one occasion announced one starting pitcher but actually started another. Additionally the "sportsmanship" rule that was used to confiscate anti-Castro signs in the ballparks was used selectively. Pro-castro signs were allowed. You even mention a man wearing a Che Guevara t-shirt in your column.

It's unfortunate that most of the media, including yourself, allowed this opportunity to shed light on the plight of the Cuban people to pass.

Most Sincerely,

Henry L. Gomez

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