The all-Cuban triple play in baseball

ramos3

becquer

valdivielso

A little baseball history to distract us from the horrific stories coming out of Cuba.

On July 23, 1960, 3 Cubans playing for the Washington Senators made baseball history.   They were involved in the only Cuban to Cuban to Cuban triple play.   I’m sure that it is the only “all latino” triple play too.   I couldn’t find any other example of 3 latinos turning a triple play.

The 3 players were pitcher Pedro Ramos, shortstop Jose Valdivielso and first baseman Julio Becquer.   Whitey Herzog, future manager with the Kansas City Royals and St Louis Cardinals, hit the ball back to Ramos, who went to first and then second.

A little more about the game.   The Senators became the Minnesota Twins in 1961.  The Kansas City A’s moved to Oakland in 1968.

Ramos won 117 games but pitched for very bad teams.   I wrote a post about him earlier when he turned 80.   Becquer had a fine glove but hit only .244 with the Senators and later the Twins.     Valdivielso hit .219 and was primarily a part-time player.

Another Cuban, Camilo Pascual, watched the proceedings from the dugout.

My thanks to Fernando Hernandez, author of “The Cubans” for bringing this to my attention.  By the way, his book is full of stories of Cubans in the US, from Celia Cruz to Desi Arnaz to lots of other less known Cubans who left their footprints.

TWO BROTHERS! ONE DREAM! LIBERTAD!

Livan El Duque

For those of you who have wondered why most Cuban-Americans take such a hardline posture when it comes to Cuba, I encourage you to watch the ESPN video “30 for 30: “Brothers in Exile.” The video recounts the story of brothers Livan and Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez – two Cubans who defected to the United States and gained fame by playing for the Miami Marlins and the New York Yankees. After seeing what they went through to leave the Island in search of freedom — a saga that is mirrored with those of most Cuban-Americans — you’ll understand why this is such a personal issue for us. Restoring democracy to a people who have lived in fear and repression for 55 years of totalitarian, communist rule is a commitment that we have with our dignity and values.

The video is available via Netflix. To view the trailer, click on http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=11514741

Habana vs Almendares: A little “beisbol” in Cuba

We remember an important anniversary in Cuban baseball:

“On December 29, 1878, the first game is played between two teams of the first professional baseball league in Cuba, later known as the Cuban League.

Representing the city of Havana, the Habana club faced off against their greatest rivals, a club from the neighboring suburb of Almendares. Habana, coached by Esteban Bellán, the first Cuban to play professional baseball in the United States, won that inaugural game 21-20.”

The first game eventually turned into the very successful Almendares-Habana rivalry, the Cuban version of the Yankees-Red Sox story.   Eventually, there was a winter league with teams like Marianao and Cienfuegos.

It all started today in 1878!

 

 

Pay Castro Inc “un honorario de 20%” and you can play overseas!

According to Maria C. Werlau, “Fidel Castro Inc” is one big conglomerate for a guy who is made a career pretending to be a socialist.   The family business is big enough for Fidel and Raul to make the list of some of the richest people in the planet.

Again, not bad for a couple of brothers who are cheered around the world as “revolutionaries”!

The latest money making scheme for Castro Inc is to send Cuban athletes overseas.   Castro Inc never passes up the opportunity to make a “peso”!

As you may remember, professional sports were outlawed in Cuba in 1961.   That was then, or the days of the Soviet subsidy and when the regime spent all of the stolen property from Cubans and foreign interests.

This is now, or the reality that Cuba desperately needs hard currency and no one is lining up to lend the regime any money.  Why would you lend money to an enterprise that defaults often?

To say the least, Cubans in the major leagues are doing quite well, from Puig in LA, to Cespedes in Oakland to Fernandez in Miami.    The latest name is Jose Abreu, a first baseman with power who is shopping for a major league contract.

However, these four men do not “share” their income with Castro Inc.  They are professional athletes who had the freedom to negotiate contracts.

They are “defectors” or players who established residency in another country and became free agents.  They are eligible to sign with any organization, as the aforementioned Abreu who will be playing somewhere next year.

That’s the way it should be until there is regime change in Cuba!

A few weeks ago, Castro Inc made a change and announced that Cuban athletes could play overseas.

Alfredo Despaigne is the first “test case” for Castro Inc.  The arrangement is that the regime keeps 20% of the salary.  He played in Mexico this year and hit well.  At the same time, let’s remember that the Mexican summer league is a low version of AAA baseball.  It’s not unusual for a good Cuban player to hit .338 against the quality of pitching in that league.

Let’s not forget also that Cuban players know that the best baseball is played in the majors.  This is where they want to play and that is why they defect!

Major League baseball, and the US government, should take a tough position against Castro Inc. when it comes to these ballplayers.

Castro Inc wants to “rent” the players and create another source of income for the family business.

I believe that Commissioner Selig should make it clear that MLB is not going to play this game.

The players should be free to sign their own deals and negotiate directly with a team.  They should not be forced to share their income with Castro Inc.

The players’ union should oppose that arrangement too.

Last, but not least, there is also the issue of “the embargo” and money flow between the island and the US.

Let’s fill the majors with Cuban players.   However, let them be “FREE” Cuban players not “servants” of Castro Inc.

 

El Rookie

Miami-Marlins’-Jose-Fernandez-Proving-To-Be-Real-Deal1

A great piece on Marlins All Star pitcher Jose Fernandez at Grantland:

He first saw it about five years ago, while he was floating on a boat about 10 miles from shore — lights stacked on top of lights, all spread upward and outward, wrapping around a piece of land that stretched north and west for several thousand miles more. He knew little about the city. He knew it had Cubans — the lucky few who had succeeded in making the trip he was now attempting. He knew it had baseball. He had heard from some that life there was easy, from others that life there was hard. Either way, he knew he wanted to go. And he knew that, on this night at least, he would never make it to shore.

Because as close as those lights were, Fernandez saw another pair of lights that were much closer — lights from a boat belonging to the United States Coast Guard, just a few hundred yards away. “When you see those lights,” Fernandez says, “you know it’s over. You hear the stories about those people. They’re incredible at their job.”

Their job in these waters, at least since the United States changed its policy in 1995, is to send Cubans back to where they came from. The law is odd, but simple. If you’re a Cuban defector who makes it to U.S. soil, you can stay. If you’re caught in the water, you go home.

Fernandez was caught in the water. The Coast Guard would send him to Cuba. The Cuban government would send him to prison. That would be fine, Fernandez thought. He just needed to survive. As long as he did that, someday, he could leave again.

Read the whole fantastic thing, right here.

Notes From Left Field

ordonez1113

Well, beat the drum and hold the phone – the sun came out today! We’re born again, there’s new grass on the field. It’s the first day of spring-when a young man’s fancy turns to…beisbol.

I’m no young man, but my thoughts did turn to beisbol and Cuba today. Yes, beisbol; Cuba’s passion and yes, the beisbol that was invented by the Taino Indians  Native Americans in Cuba. Don’t believe me? Too bad, prove me wrong. It can’t be proven that some American named Doubleday invented it or that some other Yanqui named Cartwright did either. So i’m giving the original inhabitants of Cuba credit.  This is the internet where anybody can say whatever they like without any proof whatsoever. So there.

And, if you don’t believe that you can claim anything as fact on the internet and at reputable media sites for that matter, head on over to the Huffington Post and read this little gem of willful fabrications on the recent trip that Rey Ordóñez, former Mets Shortstop,  took to his homeland, Cuba, the first since his “defection” in 1993.

The point of the fact-challenged post is that the six pictures of Ordóñez in Cuba totally rebut the pro emabargo position “that it helps prop up a communist dictator.”

The Beisbol tall tale begins with the title: Cuba Travel: Baseball Star Rey Ordonez Allowed To Return Home Thanks To Obama Travel Policies. Really? It continues:

 Throughout the following decades, Ordóñez traveled across America playing for the New York Mets, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and the Chicago Cubs, but never made it back to Cuba because U.S. laws banned his return. This week, Ordóñez took advantage of the Cuba travel policy enacted in January and finally returned to Havana, where he was given a hero’s welcome.

That statement is as absurd as it is wrong. Cuban- Americans have been allowed to visit their relatives in Cuba under Clinton, Bush and Obama. If Ordóñez, pictured above becoming a US Citizen, hadn’t returned to Cuba until now, it’s because either he didn’t want to or because his former owners would not let the slave return to his former plantation.

And yes, Ordóñez like all Cubans was a slave, he had to “defect,” scape his masters by jumping over a fence in Buffalo. He was not free to come play Beisbol in the States, like Beckham was when he came over to play Soccer in LA or when Denis Rodman came to Earth to play basketball from whatever planet he’s from. But the HP doesn’t concern itself with this gross violation of his human rights. They, of course, act as if an athlete having to “defect” to get as much as he can for his God-given talents is totally normal. You see Ordóñez homesickness was caused by hardline evil hearted conservative exiles like Marco Rubio and had to be remedied by Obama’s  all knowing and emcopassing compassion:

Ordóñez owes his trip to an Obama Administration policy, much criticized by Marco Rubio, allowing so-called people-to-people trips to Cuba. Though the process of going to Cuba is still extremely complicated, it is now possible for savvy travelers and homesick ballplayers.

What a crock of crap!

As a matter of fact, it was the [c]astro regime that decided in all its magnanimity to allow the former defectors who were once branded traitors and “vende patrias” (country sellers) to return. And return they did, back to the plantation, jumping through all the hoops their former masters laid out, smiling, taking pictures, giving interviews and paying through the nose. That’s their business. But it wasn’t Obama’s doing.

There was a change in the in travel policy in January of this year as the HP post claims, but it was made by [r]aúl [c]astro, not Obama. Maybe HP got [c]astro and Obama confused. I guess that’s ok since I do the same thing sometimes.

No Hall of Fame for the dopers

When I was a kid and into my teenage years I was a huge baseball fan. Thanks in large part because of my beloved abuelo, I loved the game.The male members of our readership will probably recall their baseball card collections — I had the complete 1966 Chicago Cubs — and I have very fond memories of the Saturdays I sat with abuelo watching baseball on TV with the color commentary by Dizzy Dean and Peewee Reese. Before his death in 1977 one of his is two favorite teams, the Cincinnati Reds — the Big Red Machine — won back-to-back World Series titles. The first against the Red Sox (boo! hiss!) in 1975; the second against my grandfather’s second favorite team, the New York Yankees, in 1976. That was a tough series for him but abuelo always rooted for the Reds and their complement of great Cuban players. Baseball was an American sport, and a Cuban sport. The love of the game was one of the very few things shared by the two countries between the Florida Straits.

All of this is prelude to the story linked here. It speaks to how low we have come in our culture and society, that a game as pure and as beautiful as baseball — the only sport with no time limit, a game that, at its best, unfolds itself like a Bruckner symphony, a game that has inspired some of the greatest sports writers and filmmakers — has deteriorated to the point that we cannot even trust the accomplishments of the players because of artificially induced talent.

Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, and especially Mark McGwire, should NEVER be inducted into the Hall of Fame at Cooperstown. If they are, then let a real baseball player like Pete Rose get in. At least Charlie Hustle was banned for gambling, not injecting performance-enhancing drugs. If you ask me, all four of these players should have huge asterisks next to their fake and tainted records. If they did it to Roger Maris, then it should be good enough for them too.

Today in Cuba News: Boxing, Jubans and radio censorship

Britain’s Stalker, Cuba’s La Cruz suffer shock defeats in Olympic boxing quarterfinals
Yamaguchi Falcao of Brazil also upset top-seeded Cuban light heavyweight Julio La Cruz 18-15 in an eventful final day of quarterfinal bouts.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/olympics/upset-central-britains-stalker-cubas-la-cruz-stunned-in-last-olympic-boxing-quarterfinals/2012/08/08/b3f527f8-e1ad-11e1-89f7-76e23a982d06_story.html
Cuba says tourism income up 12.8 percent in 2011
In an undated report posted recently on its website, the National Office of Statistics said tourism income was $2.5 billion in 2011, compared with $2.2 billion the previous year.
In all, the island hosted 2.7 million visitors, up 7 percent from 2.5 million in 2010.
http://www.businessweek.com/ap/2012-08-09/cuba-says-tourism-income-up-12-dot-8-percent-in-2011
Cuban pole vaulter snaps pole at Olympics
Borges had his pole break in half while he was beginning his ascent into the air in the Olympic pole vault final, sending fiberglass flying in different directions. Luckily, he was OK and not injured.
http://www.freep.com/usatoday/article/56910532?odyssey=mod%7Cnewswell%7Ctext%7COlympic%20Sports%7Cs
Injury forces Cuba’s Robles out of 110m hurdles final
Robles, the defender of the title obtained in Beijing four years ago and the fastest in the world for the event with a time of 12.87 seconds, could not retain the crown due to an injury in his right thigh that forced him to stop after the fifth hurdle.
http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/sports/2012/08/08/injury-forces-cuba-robles-out-110m-hurdles-final/
Cuba lifts radio ban on Anti-Castro artists
Though the Communist authorities do not acknowledge it, for five decades state radio stations have blacklisted musicians who abandoned Fidel Castro’s 1959 Revolution and/or spoke out against it, the BBC reports. Now, that may be changing.
http://rbr.com/cuba-lifts-radio-ban-on-anti-castro-artists/
Foreign business in Cuba: Beware the dangerous embrace
So a strange incongruity exists in Cuba today: Havana is bending over backwards to attract foreign currency at the same time it is imprisoning some of its biggest Western investors. For all Cuba’s reforms, this Castro appears to be as intent on maintaining an iron grip on the country as the last one.
http://www2.macleans.ca/2012/08/08/cuba-risky-business/
Navigating humanitarian deliveries to Cuba is tricky for Miami terminal operator
International Port Corp., which offers maritime service from the Miami River to Cuba, is finding the Cuban government is picky about which items it will accept in humanitarian shipments. New Cuban Customs fees could also complicate the business.
http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/08/07/2940671/navigating-humanitarian-deliveries.html
Summer Nights: Cuban ‘Jubans’ In South Sudan
In Juba, the capital city of South Sudan, there’s a small corner of Havana. A number of Jubans who studied in Cuba have tried to recreate some of the atmosphere of the Caribbean island in their southern Sudanese homeland.
http://www.npr.org/2012/08/08/158448841/summer-nights-cuban-jubans-in-south-sudan

NEWS

Britain’s Stalker, Cuba’s La Cruz suffer shock defeats in Olympic boxing quarterfinals

Yamaguchi Falcao of Brazil also upset top-seeded Cuban light heavyweight Julio La Cruz 18-15 in an eventful final day of quarterfinal bouts.

Cuba says tourism income up 12.8 percent in 2011

In an undated report posted recently on its website, the National Office of Statistics said tourism income was $2.5 billion in 2011, compared with $2.2 billion the previous year.

In all, the island hosted 2.7 million visitors, up 7 percent from 2.5 million in 2010.

Cuban pole vaulter snaps pole at Olympics

Borges had his pole break in half while he was beginning his ascent into the air in the Olympic pole vault final, sending fiberglass flying in different directions. Luckily, he was OK and not injured.

Injury forces Cuba’s Robles out of 110m hurdles final

Robles, the defender of the title obtained in Beijing four years ago and the fastest in the world for the event with a time of 12.87 seconds, could not retain the crown due to an injury in his right thigh that forced him to stop after the fifth hurdle.

Cuba lifts radio ban on Anti-Castro artists

Though the Communist authorities do not acknowledge it, for five decades state radio stations have blacklisted musicians who abandoned Fidel Castro’s 1959 Revolution and/or spoke out against it, the BBC reports. Now, that may be changing.

Navigating humanitarian deliveries to Cuba is tricky for Miami terminal operator

International Port Corp., which offers maritime service from the Miami River to Cuba, is finding the Cuban government is picky about which items it will accept in humanitarian shipments. New Cuban Customs fees could also complicate the business.

Summer Nights: Cuban ‘Jubans’ In South Sudan

In Juba, the capital city of South Sudan, there’s a small corner of Havana. A number of Jubans who studied in Cuba have tried to recreate some of the atmosphere of the Caribbean island in their southern Sudanese homeland.

OPINION

Foreign business in Cuba: Beware the dangerous embrace

So a strange incongruity exists in Cuba today: Havana is bending over backwards to attract foreign currency at the same time it is imprisoning some of its biggest Western investors. For all Cuba’s reforms, this Castro appears to be as intent on maintaining an iron grip on the country as the last one.

Today in Cuba news: Alan Gross wants ribs, a Cuban wrestler becomes a legend, Yoani remembers el maleconazo

NEWS

Olympic triathlete Manny Huerta lives immigrant’s dream

He was born in Havana and speaks with a Cuban accent, but he is an American at heart and was proud to march with the U.S. team in in the opening ceremony.

American man in prison in Cuba dreams of freedom, going to Cuban baseball game, eating ribs

Bonnie Rubinstein, the sister of Cuban prisoner Alan Gross, was in Washington Monday for a weekly demonstration in front of Cuba’s equivalent of an embassy.

In an interview afterward, she said her 63-year-old brother is a Washington Redskins football fan who has grown interested in Cuban baseball because his jailors watch games.

Cuba’s Mijain Lopez repeats as Olympic champion

Lopez is the third wrestler to win multiple golds at 120 kilograms, joining Russian legend Alexandre Karelin and Alexander Koltschinkski of the former Soviet Union.

Opinion

Heartbreak in Havana

The Suspicious Death of Catholic Lay Leader Oswaldo Paya and a Vibrant Young Colleague

Cuba: 18 Years After a Short-Lived Uprising (by Yoani Sanchez)

But on the morning of August 5 of that year, the Malecón became a battlefield. Around the ferry dock to Regla people were gathering, encouraged by the hijackings of several boats throughout the summer. An extended sensation of the end, of chaos, of “zero hour” was palpable in the atmosphere.

RELEASES

From Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen: As A Dozen Former U.S. Foreign Policy Makers Endorse Document Rejecting Commercial Ties With Cuba While Castros Remain In Power, Ros-Lehtinen Congratulates Them For Putting Freedom First

(see the release below the fold)

Read more

Today in Cuba news: Cubans going the Central America route; CubaDebate highlights Carromero’s driving record; Amnesty calls for end to cat-and-mouse games

NEWS

US-bound Cubans pour into Panama through Colombia

Led by smugglers armed with knives and machetes, Mayra Reyes and 14 other Cubans sloshed through swamps and rivers and suffered hordes of mosquitoes as they struggled across the notorious Darien Gap between Panama and Colombia, the only north-south stretch of the Americas to defy road-builders.

Cuban wins shooting gold with record-setting final

Cuba’s Leuris Pupo won gold in the men’s 25-meter rapid fire pistol event Friday and set an Olympic shooting record in the process.

Pupo tied a world record and set an Olympic mark with a score of 34 in the final round to beat India’s Vijay Kumar by four shots. Ding Feng of China won bronze with a score of 27. All three of the countries on the podium had never medaled in this event before.

Cuba says Spaniard has lead foot, highlights history of speeding before crash that killed Paya

Cuban officials are highlighting earlier traffic violations by a Spaniard involved in a car crash that killed prominent dissident Oswaldo Paya, saying he was notified recently that his driver’s license was being revoked.

Cuban dissident’s family insists another car was involved in fatal crash

The family of the late Oswaldo Payá says a mysterious red Lada was at the site of the crash and refuses to accept the government’s finding the dissident was killed in a one-car crash

OPINION

A Diversified GOP Hammers the Big Lie

Liberal Democrat Hispanics and their polling colleagues at Latino Decisions say Rubio doesn’t help Romney among Hispanic registered voters, but there is a better answer to that question. It was provided by Hispanic Republicans in Texas on run-off day, Tuesday the 30th.

Not only did Ted Cruz receive a mountain of votes in his 56.8% to 43.2% defeat of the Texas’ Lt. Governor but he received a mountain of Hispanic Republican votes as well.

NEWS RELEASES

Amnesty International: Cuba must stop ‘cat-and-mouse game’ with political activists

The Cuban authorities must end their ongoing harassment of political and human rights activists, Amnesty International said today after a former prisoner of conscience was released following his latest arrest and detention in a police station for 36 hours.

José Daniel Ferrer García, coordinator of the organization Patriotic Union of Cuba (Unión Patriótica de Cuba, UNPACU), was set free on Wednesday, two days after police arrested him in the eastern province of Holguín.

And, finally, here is the full text of a release from Cuba Archive. This is dated July 31, but I only came across it now.

Investigate the deaths of Cuba’s Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero
Miami, July 31, 2012. The circumstances surrounding the death in a car crash last July 22nd of Oswaldo Payá,  Cuba´s foremost opposition leader, and Harold Cepero, a young member of his movement, are shrouded in suspicion and countless unanswered questions. Angel Carromero, from Spain and Aron Modig, from Sweden, both 27, survived the crash. While in detention they separately issued self-incriminating public statements validating Cuba’s official version of the crash (Carromero´s was filmed, Modig´s was in the presence of journalists from news organizations authorized in Cuba). They each faced long years of prison, apparently now “forgiven,” for violations to Cuba’s despotic national security and immigration laws disallowing “unconstitutional political activities.” Both are members of youth group of political parties from their respective countries that promote the peaceful democratization of Cuba. While Modig was released and able to leave the country, his account is compromised by his friend’s continued detention and facing charges of involuntary homicide entailing up to 20 years of prison.
The international community must investigate if these deaths resulted from state-sponsored operations or involved state agents. If suspicions prove well founded, Cuba should be held accountable at all levels –bilaterally, multilaterally, and at all appropriate international instances and bodies.
Urgent action is required to demand:
the safety and wellbeing as well as procedural fairness for Angel Carromero;
unrestricted access to Carromero by the Payá and Cepero families, trusted third parties, and the media at a safe location –outside of Cuba­ or at a trusted embassy in Havana– with no pressure from Cuban authorities and after toxicology tests have ruled out the presence of drugs;
transparency from the families and colleagues of Cepero and Modig as well as from the governments of Spain and Sweden regarding events surrounding the crash, including release to the public of records of all calls made and text messages sent by Carromero or Modig the day of the incident;
comprehensive investigations of the deaths of Payá and Cepero conducted by reliable independent international experts granted free and full access to all witnesses and material evidence;
autopsies of the bodies of Payá and Cepero by a trusted pathology team in a facility outside of Cuba.
That the Cuban regime employs terror and violence to silence its detractors is well established. Torture of prisoners —including with psychotropic drugs— is commonplace. Thus, there are no guarantees that self-incriminating testimony was not made under duress and/or in exchange for leniency in the severity of the penalties. If the government has nothing to hide, it should have no problem allowing the above.
The official newspaper of Cuba´s Communist Party, Granma, has repeated its absurd claim that the revolution has never been responsible for even one extrajudicial killing, disappearance, torture, or kidnapping. Yet, the dictatorship’s disregard for the sanctity of life and universally held norms of conduct is illustrated in its own laws as well as in first-hand accounts of its citizens and decades of reports by international human rights’ organizations and entities. Our Truth and Memory project has to date documented 27 forced disappearances and 4,652 lives lost to Cuba´s firing squads and in extrajudicial killings, including of many persons in detention or prison. This excludes many more deaths of detainees from lack of medical care and in reported suicides, for which Cuba is also held responsible. This information challenges the Cuban regime to disprove each and every one of these cases.
Furthermore, Cuba Archive has received reports of a considerable number of deaths from “accidents” of detractors of the Cuban regime —in Cuba and in several countries— surrounded by mysterious circumstances and strongly pointing to state-sponsored killings. Examples are summarized in our Report Cuba: Strange accidents and other unexplained deaths; those resulting in death appear in our electronic database of documented cases (see www.CubaArchive.orgfor both).  The sudden illness and death of Laura Pollán, leader of Cuba´s Ladies in White, deserves to be highlighted and calls for an independent investigation. (See our release of 10/25/2011.)
That the international community has not held Cuba’s government accountable for even its more evident and egregious human rights’ violations has only emboldened it further. As long as it enjoys sustained impunity and is legitimized by the civilized world, it will continue to employ terror and violence to silence its detractors.
Cuba Archive Truth and Memory Project -Free Society Project/www.CubaArchive.org

Investigate the deaths of Cuba’s Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero

Miami, July 31, 2012. The circumstances surrounding the death in a car crash last July 22nd of Oswaldo Payá,  Cuba´s foremost opposition leader, and Harold Cepero, a young member of his movement, are shrouded in suspicion and countless unanswered questions. Angel Carromero, from Spain and Aron Modig, from Sweden, both 27, survived the crash. While in detention they separately issued self-incriminating public statements validating Cuba’s official version of the crash (Carromero´s was filmed, Modig´s was in the presence of journalists from news organizations authorized in Cuba). They each faced long years of prison, apparently now “forgiven,” for violations to Cuba’s despotic national security and immigration laws disallowing “unconstitutional political activities.” Both are members of youth group of political parties from their respective countries that promote the peaceful democratization of Cuba. While Modig was released and able to leave the country, his account is compromised by his friend’s continued detention and facing charges of involuntary homicide entailing up to 20 years of prison.

Read more

Today in Cuba news: the Carromero family hires a lawyer, a cubiche wins bronze, and opinions on Oswaldo Payá

CUBA. DESPUÉS DEL ASESINATO DE OSWALDO PAYÁ: ¿QUIÉN SERÁ EL PRÓXIMO OPOSITOR ASESINADO POR LOS HERMANOS CASTRO. VIDEO CON TESTAMENTO POLÍTICO DE JUAN FRANCISCO SIGLER AMAYA EN CASO DE SU EXTRAÑA MUERTE
http://baracuteycubano.blogspot.com/2012/08/cuba-despues-del-asesinato-de-oswaldo.html
Cuban opera singer challenges “jealous” bureaucrats over closed theater
http://in.reuters.com/article/2012/08/01/cuba-theater-reform-idINL2E8IU8AZ20120801
Opinion: What Really Happened to Cuban Dissident Oswaldo Payá?
http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/news/2012/08/01/opinionthe-legacy-oswaldo-paya/
Spaniard held in Cuba after deadly crash hires a lawyer
http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/news/2012/08/01/spaniard-held-in-cuba-after-deadly-crash-hires-lawyer/
Cuban-Americans’ Political Success
While Cuban-Americans represent only a tiny fraction of the Hispanic population of the United States, three of them have been elected to the United States Senate and another may soon join them, with Ted Cruz’s victory in the Republican Senate primary in Texas on Tuesday.
Why have Cuban-Americans been more successful than other Hispanic candidates, even in states with few Cuban-Americans?
http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2012/08/01/cuban-americans-political-success
Cuban-American Leyva captures bronze in London
First-time Olympian brings home all-around medal
http://www.local10.com/sports/Cuban-American-Leyva-captures-bronze-in-London/-/1717082/15923946/-/1o95acz/-/index.html
Leyva wins bronze, Orozco finishes eighth for U.S. in individual all-around gymnastics
http://www.nypost.com/p/sports/olympics/leyva_wins_bronze_orozco_finishes_kv8InEEb9ZKIJ09yOtSLYN
Payá’s dream of a free Cuba will come true
http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/08/01/2926108/payas-dream-of-a-free-cuba-will.html
New Air Route between Havana and Tokyo
http://technorati.com/lifestyle/travel/article/new-air-route-between-havana-and/
US Senate urges Cuba dissident death probe

http://www.portalangop.co.ao/motix/en_us/noticias/internacional/2012/7/31/Senate-urges-Cuba-dissident-death-probe,734caaca-3dc6-4b85-b572-

8287d0f56b98.html

News & Reporting

Cuban opera singer challenges “jealous” bureaucrats over closed theater

(Note: Another story on the same cabaret was posted yesterday. This Reuters piece, however, offers a bit more detail — however accurate it might be — on the ludicrous legal issues that the club’s owner faces in Cuba.)

Spaniard held in Cuba after deadly crash hires a lawyer

The family of the visiting Spaniard who was behind the wheel for the car crash that killed prominent Cuban dissident Oswaldo Paya has hired a Havana-based attorney to represent him, Spanish diplomats told EFE here Wednesday.

Cuban-American Leyva captures bronze in London

Born in Cuba but raised in the United States, Leyva put up incredible scores on the parallel bars and horizontal bars to rally late for a third place finish.

New Air Route between Havana and Tokyo

The first flight is scheduled for Wednesday August 1st

US Senate urges Cuba dissident death probe

The resolution also “condemns the government of Cuba for the detention of nearly 50 pro-democracy activists” following a memorial service for Paya.

Opinions & Editorials

Opinion: What Really Happened to Cuban Dissident Oswaldo Payá? (by Roger Noriega)

So what does Raul Castro have to say in the wake of the untimely death of Oswaldo Payá?  This weekend he offered a dialogue with the United States – “a conversation between equals.”  Setting aside the staggering delusion that Castro considers his regime equal to any decent democracy, such a dialogue must be among the Cuban people about the future they deserve.

Cuban-Americans’ Political Success (a collection of five opinion pieces)

While Cuban-Americans represent only a tiny fraction of the Hispanic population of the United States, three of them have been elected to the United States Senate and another may soon join them, with Ted Cruz’s victory in the Republican Senate primary in Texas on Tuesday.

Payá’s dream of a free Cuba will come true (by Czech journalist Eduard Freisler)

Oswaldo never yelled back; he never even used curse words while describing his enemies to me. Maybe Oswaldo Payá was a little too naive and sometimes too meticulous, but above all he was a brave, noble man who cared about Cuban democracy and freedom. It’s more than unfortunate that both he and Havel died before they could toast to freedom in Havana together.

Cuba’s Baseball Pickle

antonio-castro

Wow! Must really suck having your best ballplayers defect to other countries so that they can actually be paid for busting their asses to perfect their skills and talent on the diamond … and count their professional contract and paycheck as their own in a professional league as free men in a free market system. It also must suck finally realizing Communism fails as an economy (among other things), but the government simply just can’t let go of its people so that they can strike out on their own and become successful and productive businessmen and workers in order to build an economy that works. Also sucks, despite the belly-aching of the left in America, that the US embargo on Cuba still hangs on and Cuba can’t “farm-out” its brightest baseball players as exported slaves to the USA in the MLB so they can send home those big professional American bucks for the commie castro coffers …

[…]

Over the last two years, major league teams have spent more than $75 million on Cuban defectors for whom a life with new cars and sparkling jewelry and freedom was too much to ignore. Nearly half the sum went to Aroldis Chapman, who in his first season with the Cincinnati Reds threw the fastest recorded pitch in history and showcased the highest-end talent available in Cuba.

Chapman’s defection, along with that of shortstops Jose Iglesias (Boston signed him for $8.2 million) and Adeiny Hechavarria (Toronto signed him for $10 million), has compelled Cuba to reconsider its policy on restricting players from plying their trade professionally elsewhere. The Baseball Federation of Cuba, headed by Fidel Castro’s son Tony, is discussing a plan that would allow baseball players to leave the country in exchange for a proportion of their salary going to Cuba, according to two sources familiar with the proposal.

Ideally, one source said, Cuba would send players to the major leagues and circumvent the spate of defections that have embarrassed the country. Such a plan, the source said, is currently a non-starter. Though MLB would welcome Cuban players, the arrangement would in effect pay the Cuban government for players, a violation of the United States’ 50-year-long embargo on Cuba. That is unlikely to thaw for baseball. While the U.S. government has allowed Cuba to play in both World Baseball Classics, Cuban players were the only ones not given the prize money handed out by the International Baseball Federation.

For now, the idea is for Cubans to go to Japan, South Korea, Mexico or Europe, like doctors and entertainers who make money elsewhere, then return home eventually. Because of working agreements with the first three countries, MLB would not take defectors from them. And baseball in Europe is played at a significantly lower quality and salary, likely keeping the top-end Cuban talent from playing in the Netherlands or Italy.

Accordingly, the defections probably will continue unabated. In November, Yasiel Balaguer, a 17-year-old on the Cuban Junior National team, defected to Nicaragua. Whether Balaguer is anything more than a marginal talent seems not to matter, as MLB teams’ intrigue with Cuban players continues despite the deep risk involved with their signings. Eleven Cuban players made major league debuts in the last three seasons and 35 have done so since 1995.

[…]

Even if they’re busts, there have been enough Cuban successes in the major leagues to feed the defecting marketplace. The Angels’ Kendry Morales is among the best hitters and the White Sox’s Alexei Ramirez is among the best-fielding shortstops in the American League. Shortstop Yunel Escobar is poised for a breakout season with Toronto, and pitcher Yunesky Maya joins Washington’s rotation this season, and outfielder/first baseman Leslie Anderson could crack Tampa Bay’s opening day roster.

Despite the dozens of players who have left over the past two years, Cuba remains No. 1 in IBAF rankings. Major league teams still covet Frederich Cepeda and Yulieski Gourriel and Alfredo Despaigne and even Lazo, who, at 37 and sporting a paunch, can fire fastballs and forkballs like his old teammate in Pinar Del Rio. […]

More on Yuri Boza, the Cuban defector

From El Nuevo Herald (translation mine):

TV Production Tech defects in San Diego
By Wilfredo Cancio Isla
El Nuevo Herald

The Cuban team participating in the second World Baseball Classic is under extreme pressure from the highest government spheres to guarantee an outstanding performance in the tournament an “elevate revolutionary athletics,” affirmed a member of the Cuban delegation on Monday.

“There’s a lot of pressure on the team, from the coaches to the players, to make a good showing and ensure that the revolution looks good,” remarked Yuri Boza, a broadcast television technician who defected in San Diego to seek political exile in the U.S.

The 31 year old Boza is the first defector among the Cuban delegation that is attending the Classic. No player defections have been reported to date among the national team which has been practically isolated from contact with the international media.

“The security guards [State Security Agents] have maintained the ballplayers under strict control, not letting anyone approach them,” said Boza, who worked as a sports editor from the Cuban Institute of Radio and Television (ICRT).

Among those traveling in the delegation is a son of Fidel Castro, Antonio Castro, team physician and vice-president of the Cuban Baseball Federation. In a recent article, the ill former leader rooted for a triumph by the national team stating that Cuba can “do something that only free men, without owners, can do, not professionals.”

“Antonio Castro is an intermediary between the team and Fidel, that’s clear to all.” [Boza] asserted.

The young man was interviewed on Monday night on the A Mano Limpia TV program on channel 41-America Tevé hosted by the journalist Oscar Haza.

He made the decision to escape before leaving the island, as soon as he learned he’d be traveling to work on the game broadcasts for the baseball Classic. If the Cuban team didn’t advance beyond the first round in Mexico, Boza had a “plan B” to reach the United States.

But the squad’s 5-4 victory over Australia opened the doors to the second round in San Diego, California.

“That day I celebrated the [team’s] victory made possible by Yosvany Peraza’s homerun with tremendous happiness because it made my plans easier,” he confessed.

He had previously traveled to the Pan-American games in Rio de Janeiro, in 2007, and the Olympics in Beijing last year, but the option of abandoning the island wasn’t as tempting as the day he received the news about a possible trip to the U.S.

“I knew this was my only chance to escape Cuba,” he affirmed. “I wasn’t going to waste it.”

Since he arrived in Mexico, the young man had been in contact with his brother Orestes Boza, a Miami resident for six years. Last Friday, upon arriving in San Diego, he made dash to that city’s airport to take the first flight which would bring him to south Florida.

He arrived in Miami midday last Saturday.

I want to feel free, do what I want, decide for myself where to go,” said Boza during a brief interview with El Nuevo Herald. “Young Cubans don’t have any loyalty to the revolution, we simply don’t want to stay there because we see no future…and I’m not daunted by the current economic crisis because in Cuba we were born in and have always lived in crisis.”