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Sundries
...a sweatshop of moxie

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Team Cuba

The World Cup of Baseball is almost over, and to everyone's amazement, the modern-day murderer's row that is the Dominican Republic, failed to advance to the final.

But it should come as no surprise that Team Cuba did.

See, it's really easy -- most of the contenders participating in this inaugural edition tourney, already have jobs.

Playing in the Big Leagues is no pipe dream, but an everyday cushy reality.

That's obviously not the case with Team Cuba.

The Cubans are playing for keeps: hoping that some MLB scout looks at them with sufficient interest, to help them make the very difficult decision of defecting to the United States, to follow in the footsteps of Livan and Orlando Hernandez, and Jose Contreras...

...World Series Champions all.

That last detail is not lost on the many baseball players from that sadly embattled country, where defecting is no joke.

If they can dream of a World Series ring and a World Series salary, maybe the sacrifice is worth it.

Yes, they want jobs in the bigs, with big-league money, but in order to get these jobs, many other considerations have to be weighed.

As my ex-boyfriend, and several of my Cuban-American friends attest to in their lives, defecting or emigrating to the US (which happens legally on occasion) can leave your loved ones behind in Cuba under great peril.

Every neighbourhood in Cuba, has a Revolutionary Committee representative who is the eyes and ears of the dictatorship for their block.

In my ex-boyfriend's case, this person was charged to reunite all her neighbours in weekly "classes" to discuss Marxism-Leninism, and the "metas" (goals) of their hometown cooperatives.

I need not mention, it's not voluntary -- it's compulsory.

Missing a "class" gets you on the very worst list imaginable:

The counter-revolutionary list subjects you to intimidation/loss of privileges (the few that exist)/ or incarceration, not to mention putting the rest of your family under the same umbrella of suspicion, which can prove costly for their education, or professional advancement.

If a family decide to leave Cuba, they are taunted as guzanos (worms), escoria (scum), and traidores (traitors).

In my ex-boyfriend's case, they were subjected to the throwing of rotten eggs on their homes, as well having as a "voluntary" committee of outraged comrades singing slogans at once vile and demeaning, rounded up and motivated to do so by the Revolutionary Committee watchdog, it goes without saying.

Some within the troupe, are even family members, who do this because they don't want to face a hard(er) time after their relatives leave.

Whilst there are some people who have been brainwashed enough to really believe this revolutionary jargon, the majority of the people who do this are doing so out of fear, as with any totalitarian government.

One word out of place, one look sometimes too, can land not only you, but others in heaps lot of trouble.

Tell me -- who WOULDN'T want to leave this place?

I love the United States, but if 1/100th of this happened here, I'd be outtie faster than a Roger Clemens heater.

This is without mentioning EVERYTHING else that Cubans have to tolerate, such as compulsory Pionero and forced labour camps for all kids aged 10, when they become wards of the State, not of their parents anymore.

(My ex-boyfriend remembers his mother and other parents, coming to deliver some food outside the camp "gates", hoping to catch a glimpse of their children, who were being taught the glories of manual labour one whole summer. Just once, just ONCE I'd like to envisage an American parent who is well-disposed to Cuba and Fidel Castro, tolerating this situation for their own kids. It just wouldn't happen)

I could go on and on. And on.

It's a nightmare to live in any Communist country, but living in Cuba, with an ocean and sea surrounding you, must be a fresh kind of hell.

As with all Communist countries, freedom of movement is not allowed.

They don't have passports to travel outside the country (obviously, a highly restricted activity), as much as they have internal passports to move about WITHIN their own country.

Can you imagine this in your own lives?

Think of it for a moment.

Say if you lived in Pittsburgh and wanted to travel to Philly, you would have to present an internal permit to do so.

Why does anyone give Cuba (and in the past, other Communist countries) a pass on these awful awful restrictions, all in the name of that oft-repeated mantra, they have good education and free health-care?

Well, whoopdee-freaking-do.

Who cares, if you can't have your bodily freedom, nor your intellectual freedom, nor your religious freedom, nor any other freedom we in the West hold sacred.

Last time Cuba played in Puerto Rico, during the Central American and Caribbean Games held there in 1993, there were no less than an embarrasing trough of 39 athletes and trainers who jumped ship, literally.

Like all Communist nations, being an athlete and bringing glory to the Revolution through your talents, brings you more goodies than your average Cuban gets.

They are given slightly larger flats, better food than the rationed 1 kilo of sugar, and 2 pairs of underwear per year, and sometimes, even an old clunker of a car.

But if you fail to produce, these goodies become carrots and sticks of manipulation, alongside everything else I have already described atop.

I want you to think of all these details when you hear, after the Cuba-Japan WCB Final, that one or more Cuban players have defected to the United States.

Because they will.

I'm guessing it'll be closer to 3, than 1 or 2, but I wouldn't be surprised if it's many more.

If they do, their families will have to endure all the disgusting travails my ex-boyfriend's family did, when they left to Costa Rica by airplane.

And they will have to wonder if they will suffer just more than eggs and taunts, or will the wrath of being related to worms, means some of the dirt rubs off on them too?

I have no idea, but there is one vision I will never forget.

My ex-boyfriend returning to his homeland, to visit his dying grandfather, with a Cuban passport -- which they made him use, despite having been revoked...if you can understand that inanity, the better to humiliate him.

A Cuban passport, moreover, stamped in red ink, with words to the effect that his rights to his homeland (patria) were null and void, since he is now a traitor to Cuba.

Well, well.

Let's see how many new traitors the Cuban State manages to cough up tomorrow.

2 Comments:

  • Thanks for a great post Victoria!

    These poor Cuban baseball players are victims of that totalitarian regime. Their families all remain in Cuba as "hostages" to ensure that they will not defect. The pressure on these young men is tremendous and yet often many do defect, despite the tight security around them during their entire trip. Some day soon we will all be able to cheer for a united Cuban team like all the other countries in the WBC were able to do. The Cuban reality is that fidel has struck out many times during the past 47 years, and 11 million Cubans are hoping soon some one else will get a chance to bat.

    By Blogger Jose Aguirre, at Sun Mar 19, 01:46:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Thanks for a great post Victoria!

    Sorry I was so late in replying to your kind reply, Jose.

    I have another similar blogpost followup I hope you can read. :)

    These poor Cuban baseball players are victims of that totalitarian regime.

    Yes, absolutely.

    Everyone is, even the higher-ups, because no matter how cosy they are in their stolen Miramar or Varadero homes, they too never have known the real taste of freedom.

    Their families all remain in Cuba as "hostages" to ensure that they will not defect.

    This is something no American chum of mine who were favourable to Castro, understood during the Elian crisis.

    (Although in his dad's case, you could tell his family were a little more "pro" the system in Cuba, than many another family -- especially the dad's mum)

    The pressure on these young men is tremendous and yet often many do defect, despite the tight security around them during their entire trip.

    White Nights, baby. Just rent it, everyone who is interested in how it works.

    Oh, and surprisingly, also the Catherine Deneuve movie, East/West.

    Simply chilling.

    Some day soon we will all be able to cheer for a united Cuban team like all the other countries in the WBC were able to do. The Cuban reality is that fidel has struck out many times during the past 47 years, and 11 million Cubans are hoping soon some one else will get a chance to bat.

    Batter up...to think El Barbudo was once scouted by the Yankees.

    Don't they know only good pitching wins games?

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Tue Mar 21, 04:23:00 am GMT-5  

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