By: Jay Lex
Edited By: Jennelle Alfred
Barack Obama was the first President to step foot into Cuba in 88 years. He had a joint news conference with Raul Castro and talked about the issues between the two countries and how to move forward to lift the embargo.
You’re probably wondering, what does this have to do with sports?
On March 22nd, MLB had an exhibition game between the Cuban National Team versus the Tampa Bay Rays in Havana. This game was supposed to show unity through sport, how baseball could help close the gap between countries with opposing political viewpoints.
This ladies and gentlemen is a farce! Why?!
When the President of the United States began opening up talks with Cuba, there was no discussion with people of Cuban descent. There was outrage from the Cuban community a good portion of which defected the Communist country because of lack of human rights and oppression.
From U.S. Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen to Dan Le Batard of ESPN, people have been unhappy with this “historic” visit. Dan Le Batard, whose family left Cuba during Fidel Castro’s reign of terror, writes: “So much happy coverage on the television this week. Historic visit! America and baseball celebrating themselves. [President] Obama and [Derek] Jeter and ESPN head toward communism like it is another cruise port, so many symbols of Americana descending on a rotting island stuck in the 1950s, and it doesn’t feel quite right back in Miami, like watching a funeral morph into a party. The history of my own people feels like it is being either ignored or trampled here, and I’m not quite sure which of those feels worse…” http://espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/id/15032737/historic-game-cuba-ignores-pain-many-people-endured
From Obama and Raul Castro doing the wave to Tampa Bay Rays players hugging fans, in the stands, the whole day felt extremely staged.
But, the Obama Administration and MLB are not the only culprits in this ill-advised attempt to further relations with the Communist dictatorship. ESPN made an entire event of this nonsense, by sending Hannah Storm and the entire Baseball Tonight Crew to cover this exhibition. For the worldwide leader, this is nothing more than an attempt to boost ratings for the fledgling network. Whether it was Karl Ravech, Eduardo Pérez, or Doug Granville or any other employee of ESPN they are all culpable for participating in this silly exhibition that does nothing to help promote basic human rights of the oppressed citizens of the Communist dictatorship in Cuba.
For MLB, this isn’t an opportunity to open relations between the two countries. However, it is an opportunity to bring coaches down to evaluate this plethora of Latin talent that exist on the island. They will be able to get their hands on these future baseball stars without the complications of defection from the country and subsequent immigration issues. They can pay these players dirt cheap early in their careers, seeing as they don’t have the education or options to do anything else.
For some who will read this, it will seem ridiculous what has been written.
But, please do not misconstrue this article as an indictment against opening relations between the United States and Cuba.
There should be open talks between the two countries, but not when the deal is seemingly one sided. Why should Cuba be allowed to receive any form of economic advancement from America (tourism, invests, etc.) if the policies contradict what the belief system of the other party is?
For most young persons, this is great! A quick JetBlue flight from JFK to Cuba for the once forbidden cigar, once unattainable Rum, and beautiful Spanish prostitute! But, for those who have either the history or actually lived through the horror of the Castro regime, this is not the way to handle this delicate situation.
Barack Obama, ESPN, and MLB should be ashamed about this. They all had their own agendas to accomplish in this travesty, except for the most important one: The freedom of the Cuban people.