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Location: Havana, Cuba

is a blog to give a fresh angle on a fascinating and beautiful Caribbean Island country that, despite being relatively small and with only 11 million people, has been a major player in American and world politics for a half century. I also suggest you try

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Drooling over Pirating Cuba's Baseball Best

by Circles Robinson

The Olympic baseball qualifying tournament that concludes tonight in this capital is once again resurrecting the dream of US agents to get their hands on Cuba’s top players. The lust to drain the island of its athletes also extends to other fields such as science, medicine and musicians.

In an article in the Arizona Republic on Tuesday, Joseph A. Reaves writes: “The recent hospitalization of 80-year-old Cuban President Fidel Castro raised speculation about the future of the island nation's most precious commodity: its baseball players.”

He then goes on to add: “If a regime change in Cuba brings an end to the blockade, baseball fans everywhere will benefit.”

The mentality that the rest of the world should be content with its talent playing for the big bucks in the United States warps the thinking of Reaves and so many reporters like him who see the US as the center of the world.

Then there’s the Bush administration that has drafted a book-thick plan with a secret appendix to overthrow the Cuban government and replace it with one designated by Washington.

If someday the US falls from its superpower status, a growing possibility due to its ethical decline, would the people in that country be ecstatic to see their best athletes bought by teams in Europe, Asia or Latin America?

Likewise, would US citizens be overjoyed and proud to see their best doctors, scientists and artists leave the country for greener pastures?

The answer is no and rightly so. Why, because they would benefit in no way, just as Cuba would lose out if its national baseball league was culled of its best players.

The Arizona Republic goes on to note that since 1936, Cuba has won the World Cup of baseball 25 times. Of the four Olympic Games since 1992 including baseball as an official sport, the gold medallist was Cuba in three, including the 2004 Athens Games.

The article adds that “part of the reason Cuba has excelled in international competition is
because of the blockade,” imposed shortly after the island’s 1959 revolution.

It’s outrageous to make such a claim when the opposite is true. Cuba, an island nation of 11.2 million people, has excelled in some fields including sports, biotechnology and medicine because, despite the blockade, it managed to make long term investments in several areas to socially and economically develop the country under the siege imposed by 10 US administrations.

The Republic reporter, like many other mainstream journalists, has eaten the bait and the rod as well that says Cubans are just waiting for Fidel to pass on so that they can bend down and ask the White House to save them.

Quoting a few millionaires who left Cuba for the big bucks with the help of US agents is a far cry from determining a nation’s interests. The American Dream of someone from a poor upbringing being able to buy 10 luxury cars and live in a huge mansion is a sick way to judge what’s best for a country.

While you have to wade through the muck, the article, to its credit, does quote one of the many Cuban baseball greats –third baseman Omar Linares-- who turned down the millions on several occasions.

It may seem strange to many in the West, where individual wealth is often held as a human’s greatest possible achievement, that Linares, like so many other talented Cubans, sees life in a different light.


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