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The politics of baseball, the politics of Cuba

Roberto González Echevarría, the author of The Pride of Havana: A History of Cuban Baseball wrote in the NYTimes editorial page yesterday on the US refusal to allow the Cuban national team to travel to the US for the World Baseball Classic in March. Echevarría supports the ban and says that protesting it is akin to “asking to be entertained by a team of slaves.”

Consider this: the option not to play in the tournament, which has been exercised by the Yankees’ Hideki Matsui among others, is not available to Cuban players – if the government tells them to play, they must. On the other hand, the regime can suspend a player from “Team Fidel,” as the national team is often called, simply out of suspicion that he might defect. This happened to Orlando Hernández, before he managed to escape in a boat and eventually find fame with the Yankees.

In this, of course, players are no different from ordinary Cubans, who are subject to preventive arrest under a law known by the horrendous euphemism of “peligrosidad predelictiva,” which translates roughly to “dangerousness likely leading to crime.” Players are also not allowed to make critical remarks about the government to the foreign press, an act prohibited by a law known as “ley mordaza,” or the “gag law.”

Shouldn’t a ripe phrase like “peligrosidad predelictiva” apply to baseball players only when they’re inside the chalk, twirling 40 oz. of wood?

LINK to Echevarría’s piece at NYTimes.com.

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