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Cuba vs. USA, More Than Just A Game

USA vs. Cuba in WBC Semifinals - Image Credit: World Baseball Classic/MLB

MIAMI, FL– The game between Cuba and the USA was more than just a regular World Baseball Classic Game. The fact that the game was being played in Miami and the stadium is in Little Havana is one of the main reasons for the attention this matchup had generated.

Foremost is the politics of Cuba, an island that is sixty miles away that many of the older Cuban generation in this city have been trying to overthrow for over sixty years and therefore anything that is connected to Cuba is protested even though the event has nothing to do with politics. Being here in both the stadium and in the heart of the Cuban community, Little Havana’s Calle Ocho I have had the pleasure of seeing several sides of the controversy.

Giant Cuban flag unfolded during the opening ceremony of yesterday’s USA – Cuba game. (Photo credit: Latino Sports)

There are many Cubans here who have reasons for protesting. Some want accountability for friends, or families that had been detained for a variety of reasons that could easily get muddled, or misinterpreted as there are few news services on the island, or non-governmental agencies to help circulate accurate information. This sector also wants dialog with the Cuban government and like many non-Cuban progressives this sector is against the U.S. blockade, and some are registered Democrats. You also have another Cuban sector that is dogmatic and will protest anything having to do with Cuba, they support the Blockade and anything to continue to overthrow the Cuban government even if it hurts the average Cuban on the island. Those tend to be overwhelmingly Republican. Then you have what I call the outliers. These are those that have no political affiliation and all they are interested in maintaining the rhetoric on overthrowing the Cuban government as an excuse to make money by providing items to Cuba via the underground at very high prices and raising money from the exile Cuban community. This group is all about capitalism.

Two young Cuban promote their support for Team USA and Team Cuba (Photo credit Latino Sports)

All three groups converged at the yesterday’s game. The majority outside in different sectors. Each group had permits to hold their protest outside the perimeter of the ballpark. What’s most interesting is that none of the protest, including those inside who had T-shirts with an anti-Cuban government message, or the three individuals that jumped onto the field did nothing but interrupt the game. Some were throwing cups and water to Cuban pitchers in the bullpen. All these protest actions did very little to garner support for their cause. On the contrary, they alienated and inconvenienced people trying to get into the stadium, or delaying the game, many booed their actions. I spoke to many Cuban fans, and I would say that seven out of ten were critical of the protest stating that sports have nothing to do with politics.

No matter what the excuse, the great majority of the Cuban fans attending the game were rooting for Cuba. Of the 35,779 fans in attendance many were Cubans with a bit more fans rooting for USA. Though this was their second game in Miami, Sunday night felt like their first as Team USA felt like they were the home team defeating Team Cuba 14-2.

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