The Cuban team arrived in the heart of the Cuban exile community on Thursday to play in the quarterfinals of the World Baseball Classic being held in Miami. The political implications of this are impossible to ignore, and protests against the communist dictatorship in Havana are expected.
Members of the Cuban national baseball team arrived in South Florida overnight ahead of the next round of the World Baseball Classic.
After their big win in Australia, Team Cuba will now have to fight it out in the heart of the Cuban exile.
Orlando Gutierrez of the Cuban Resistance Assembly said this isn’t just any game and expect protests surrounding their visit.
“I expect to see really good Cuban baseball players, play a sport that Cubans adore,” Gutierrez said. “To put forth the voice of those people in Cuba who are in prison, who are persecuted.”
Gutierrez argues that for decades the Cuban government has used sports to spread propaganda and political influence.
“We have nothing against the players,” he said. “They’re athletes competing in a major athletic sport competition and we don’t reject them. We reject the regime which controls them, and the regime which is represented in this world event.”
As for the players, Gutierrez argues that being in Miami is probably highly stressful as they are under immense scrutiny from the Cuban government as Cuban athletes in the past have used similar events to defect.
“I have no doubt that if they were to defect, their families back at home would suffer significant consequences,” said retired University of Miami professor and Cuba expert Andy Gomez.
There’s no doubt the Castro dictatorship is fearing a repeat of what took place in 2021 when the Cuban team played in West Palm Beach and protest signs against the regime were broadcast on live TV, including in Cuba. The Castros do not tolerate any dissent, either in Cuba or anywhere else in the world, but their State Security apparatus is useless in controlling Miamians. There will be protests, as well there should be, and the Cuban regime cannot stop them.
Since the start of the World Baseball Classic, the communist Castro dictatorship has been using its team as a propaganda tool with no challenges. In Miami, the regime will see what freedom of speech looks like.