Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
Twenty-one years have passed since the return to the homeland, on June 28, 2000, of that six-year-old boy kidnapped in Miami by distant relatives in collusion with the Cuban-American mafia, after losing his mother in the shipwreck of a boat that was trying to reach the U.S. coasts, as a consequence of the irregular migration encouraged by the Cuban Adjustment Act.
He was returned to Cuba under the guardianship of his father seven months after his kidnapping, after the mobilization of all the people of Cuba and a long judicial process, in violation of international law and U.S. laws themselves, since both legislations recognize that the jurisdiction over these cases belongs only to the courts of the country of origin.
Elián González Brotons was just a six-year-old pionero when, on November 22, 1999, his mother tried to smuggle him out of Cuba. The shipwreck of the boat in which they were traveling caused the death of 11 of the occupants except for Elián and two others. The boy, clinging to a tire, was rescued by fishermen and taken to U.S. territory, where he became, after the just demands of his father, the center of the battle of an entire people during seven months for his return.
Upon arrival in Florida, the child was placed in the care of Lázaro González, his paternal great-uncle living in Miami, who soon after, in open complicity with the anti-Cuban mafia, opposed any attempt to return him to Cuba.
Elián’s father, Juan Miguel González, was unaware of his son’s departure from Cuba and immediately requested his repatriation, an act that was supported by the Cuban Government and all its people.
In spite of the opposition of Elián’s distant relatives to his return to his country, on January 5, 2000, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) of the United States recognized Juan Miguel’s parental rights over his son.
The decision was endorsed by U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno and President William Clinton, and the child was scheduled to be returned by January 14. But relatives and anti-Cuban groups in Miami appealed the decision and took the case to the U.S. courts.
On January 21, Elián’s grandmothers traveled to the United States to look for their grandson. Five days later, after multiple steps, they were able to see him, but only for a few hours, and they had to return alone to Cuba.
Faced with the silence of the U.S. authorities, on December 5, young people from the Technical Youth Brigades (BTJ) protested in front of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana (SINA), against the child’s detention.
The action was the prelude to what would later turn out to be a wave of mass demonstrations, including marches of hundreds of thousands of people -the Marches of the Combatant People-, combative Open Tribunals in different cities of the country and the beginning of the Battle of Ideas.
On December 23, 1999, in front of a group of children who guarded the U.S. Interests Section in Havana on the occasion of the march for the child Elián González, in the José Antonio Echeverría social circle, the Commander in Chief, Fidel Castro, said: “What is beginning today is the second stage of the battle of the masses that we have been waging since Sunday, December 5. It has been and is a battle of ideas, of national and international public opinion, of legal, ethical and human principles, between Cuba and the empire, which in our Homeland is supported by one of the largest and most combative mobilizations that has taken place throughout our history”.
What the SINA officials could not foresee at that time is that this would be the most prolonged and massive popular movement, of those that had taken place since January 1st, 1959, up to the present day.
Elian’s father, Juan Miguel González, traveled to Washington on April 6, but it was not until 16 days later that he was reunited with his son after a federal operation rescued the boy from the kidnappers. The maneuvers reached the Atlanta Court, which in two instances rejected demands for political asylum for Elián, but not an injunction preventing his return.
On Monday, June 26, 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court, in just two days, settled a case that had lasted more than seven months and denied all legal remedies to the abductors. On June 28, 2000, the boy and his father returned to Cuba.
“I feel happy in Cuba, that the result of that struggle led by the Cubans to which the American people and many personalities joined, led by Fidel, gave me the possibility to grow up here, to know him, to be his friend and it is my greatest pride,” Elián said on May 12, 2016.
In July 2010, Elián made public statements in which he thanked the people of Cuba and the United States for having achieved his release and supported his father Juan Miguel at all times; he also declared he did not to hold a grudge against his Miami relatives, protagonists of the kidnapping.
On December 6, 2018, the then President of the Councils of State and Ministers of Cuba, Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, congratulated Elián through his Twitter account on his 25th birthday, and recalled that the battle for his freedom, led by Fidel, showed how many challenges can be overcome together.
His hometown awarded, on December 29, 2019, the young industrial engineer Elián González the title of Illustrious Son of Cárdenas, conferred during the provincial act of Matanzas for the 61st anniversary of the Triumph of the Revolution. The title of Illustrious Son given to the already militant of the Union of Young Communists coincided with the 20th anniversary of the emergence of the Battle of Ideas.
Youth is the present and future of Cuba, says Elián González
Elián González: “Young people are not the future, they are the present”.
Special program The Battle for Elián
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
This Saturday, June 26th, Rebel Army Captain Orlando Borrego Díaz died in Havana, at the age of 85, due to problems associated with the COVID-19.
Borrego was born in Holguin, on March 3, 1936. From a very young age he began his revolutionary activities. In October 1958 he joined Column No.8 Ciro Redondo, under the command of Commander Ernesto Guevara, in the Escambray.
After the triumph of the Revolution he occupied various responsibilities as Chief of the Military Economic Board of the La Cabaña Regiment (1959) and of the Industrialization Department of INRA (1959-1960), as First Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Industries (1961-1964) and then as Minister of the Sugar Industry (1964-1968). He also served as advisor to the Executive Committee of the Council of Ministers (1973-1980) and as an economic advisor to the Che Guevara Chair of the University of Havana, as well as to the Minister of Transportation. He was also a close collaborator of Comandante Ernesto Che Guevara.
Orlando Borrego graduated with a degree in Economics from the University of Havana, and in 1980 he obtained the Scientific Degree of Doctor in Economic Sciences at the Institute of Economics and Mathematics of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR.
He was the author of several books, among them: El desarrollo de la Industria Azucarera en Cuba (1965), La ciencia de dirección, antecedentes y enfoques actuales (1987), El Che en el socialismo (1989), El Che del siglo XXI (1997) and Che, el camino del fuego (2001).
For his successful service to the Revolution he received numerous decorations and awards. His body was cremated.
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
Forced to walk on tiptoe, deprived of the outside world, longing for air and freedom, sharing with others that loneliness that persists even when accompanied, trusting that the end would be “good”, that is how Anne Frank lived her last two years.
She went from being the talkative 13-year-old schoolgirl who was always “the first to play jokes, the eternal joker,” to feeling “conscious of being a woman of moral strength and courage.”
She, whirlwind and din, independent, flirtatious, interested in the history and mythology of Greece and Rome, should be remembered not only for the causes that brought death upon her, but for the vitality with which she faced them, certain that, at the end of that terrible struggle, she would be recognized as other people and not only as a Jewess.
“I want to go on living, even after my death. That is why I am grateful to God who, since my birth, gave me the possibility (…) of expressing everything that happens in me. When I write I forget everything, my sorrow disappears and my courage is reborn. But – and this is the main question – will I ever be able to write something lasting, will I ever be able to be a journalist or a writer?”
No wonder then that, that night of March 28, 1944 while listening to the radio, all eyes around her turned to her and her diary seemed “taken by storm,” after hearing Minister Bolkestein say that at the end of the war letters and memoirs concerning that time would be collected. “Fix yourself a novel about the annex published by me! Wouldn’t that be interesting, wouldn’t it?” she left initialed in her notes on the evening.
Thanks to the memoirs she so skillfully recorded in her diary, humanity has been able to know how those eight Jews who clandestinely lived in the annex of a warehouse in Holland ate, slept, talked and spent their days, terrified by the constant bombing and the fierce fear of being “discovered and shot” by the Gestapo, all this while half the world was sinking into hunger, misery and death unleashed by the Second World War.
In Kitty – as she called “the very first surprise” she received on June 12, 1942, on her thirteenth birthday – she found someone to whom she could confide without reserve everything she was unable to express, not even to her parents and sister. Overwhelmed by family conflicts, those of adolescence and those caused by confinement, war and the feeling of being besieged, Anne gave no respite to her pen and diary, the basis of her truncated yearnings to have fun, ride a bicycle, go to school, dance, whistle, have a place in the world and work for her fellow humans.
There, amid the suffocation of confinement, she found love in Peter, the son of the family with whom the Franks shared the annex. “Every time he looks at me with those eyes (…) a little flame seems to light up in me”. Anne understood in the midst of all the horror that “he who is happy can make others happy. Whoever loses neither courage nor confidence, will never perish from misery”.
She, like so many other Jews, died in a concentration camp, just one month before it was liberated. Today, when the world is plunged in hatred and conflicts, the firmness of spirit is the best tribute to that young woman murdered by human monstrosity.
Marina Menéndez Quintero | firstname.lastname@example.org
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
It could be said that, as Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil and Nayib Bukele in El Salvador were in their time, he is also an outsider: a man outside politics who is said to have formulated his candidacy as a presidential candidate on the same day that the registration period closed. On that date, he was accepted by Peru Libre. Today, Pedro Castillo has real possibilities of being elected president and of bringing about changes.
But only the primordial character in these matters relates him to those other candidates who, like him, came to the elections virtually outside the parties, when in the formal political sphere they were still little known: the distances between Castillo and those other outsiders of the region are enormous.
His formation as a very humble rural teacher in a remote locality of Puña, in Cajamarca, where he still lives and, recently, a social activism that placed him as leader of two popular mobilizations let him be seen -of course, from a distance- as a man with bullet-proof authenticity that he proclaims wearing the native hat of his homeland, and that he has shielded with his speech. It is the same hat he wore as a “comunero” and “rondero”, as they call in his country the peasants who stand guard to protect their region from the violent ones.
He speaks simply because he is simple; also, perhaps, because of that gift of explaining clearly that a teacher always has and, surely, so that those from below understand. And he “speaks well”, because in academic matters he is not an improvised: he studied Pedagogy at the University and also has a master’s degree in Educational Psychology.
By antagonism, these qualities gain weight when Pedro Castillo has in front of him, for the second electoral round that will decide the presidency of Peru this Sunday, a precocious candidate worn out as a political figure from so much climbing to the proscenium, on whom weighs repeated accusations of corruption and the 25-year prison sentence that her father Alberto Fujimori is serving for those and other sins. A candidate with a portfolio full of the same empty promises that only portend more of the same.
In spite of this, Keiko Fujimori is running for the third time for the first magistracy, and the polls say that she finished the campaign on the heels of her rival, although better positioned than when she started.
Keiko, the political heir of her father, Alberto Fujimori, would keep the neoliberal model intact. Hers could be a term of social and legal instability because there are legal cases against her. Photo: Reuters.
In the face of the right-wing candidate of Fuerza Peru and her deceitful speech, political “virginity” and, at the same time, the will for change of “the Professor” stands out, as Castillo is known with the respect that the teaching profession awakens, especially among the poor, because for them education is almost always something foreign.
When one examines his program, it may be thought that he gathers the sentiments of the dispossessed and, therefore, that he has been able to overcome the skepticism created by the accusations of corruption that persecuted six former presidents in the last 20 years, and for some of whom exercising the Government turned out to be a form of profit.
The disbelief that this provoked was visible in the almost 30 percent abstention rate and the 17 percent of invalid votes in the first round: altogether, a figure that placed these indices as real winners.
Previously, in November, non-conformity exploded through the resounding demonstrations provoked by the deposition in Congress of the penultimate former president, Martin Vizcarra, because the legislature had once again disregarded the laws and the people.
A cardinal aspect is that the aspirant of Peru Libre has included among his proposals the installation of a Constituent Assembly to draft a new constitution, a demand to which the radicalized demands of the street protests were directed.
Pedro Castillo has said that he will sponsor foreign investment, but “with order”, and has criticized that they take the money out of the country, for which he speaks of nationalizing the wealth, as well as the renegotiation of the tax stability contracts with the big companies. He has promised what he calls a “second agrarian reform”.
In addition, he proposes the universalization of the health system, the creation of the Ministry of Science and Technology “because Peru cannot be only a primary exporting country”, he has said on Twitter. He also proposes an increase of the budget for research in development and free entrance to higher education, as well as decentralizing public universities.
However, the first focus of his eventual government would be aimed at combating the pandemic, for which he has proposed, among other measures, the creation of a council composed of scientists, public health technicians and researchers, in order to design effective measures against Covid-19.
He was a man virtually unknown in Peru two months ago, until he was the most voted candidate in the other round with only 19 percent of the ballots. A surprise.
Now he seems a step away from victory. But the margins of difference with Keiko are so close that it is difficult to predict.
It could be said that the flood of endorsements has come to Castillo in a “natural” way if one takes into account the scarcity of resources of his campaign and the same austerity and relative youth of the party that welcomed him and launched him into the arena, and against the backdrop of dirty campaigns.
Peru Libre was founded in 2007 under the slogan “Force born of the people!”, with the declared purpose in its statutes of “the search for social justice expressed in the welfare of man as the highest aspiration, making Peruvian society more equitable, less exclusive and that all Peruvians have equal opportunities formerly denied, striving for development from each of the angles in which they act and develop”.
The right-wing insists on branding Castillo as a communist in order to close the way to him, re-editing an old fear that seemed to be buried with the era of McCarthyism.
As expected, the conservative media campaign has been furious against him and includes other accusations against the candidate and the leaders of Peru Libre, without discarding the lawfare chapter that could be the accusations of money laundering that are once again waved against the general secretary of the group, Vladimir Cerron, wielded this week in a hurry in the clear desire to disqualify the leftist candidate until the last minute, as in a final sprint.
Thus, the voting intention has been “polarized”. The candidates represent antagonistic programs and, therefore, very different social classes.
Everything could be seen, a little superficially, in this way: those who want the status quo have closed ranks behind Keiko, even valuing that of “the lesser evil”, just to stop the opponent. The poor and those who want change are rallying behind Castillo.
Opinion polls show that she is stronger in the northern departments and cities; he has preeminence in the countryside and the central and southern regions.
Seven days ago, the latest polls showed the aspirant of Peru Libre in the lead, but only two points and tenths ahead of his rival, whom three weeks ago he was leading, however, by up to ten percentage points.
The resounding 51 percent that opinion polls showed for “the Professor” last Sunday, and the 48.8 percent registered by Fujimori, suggested a technical tie.
Whatever the result, the “news” was already carried by the surprising emergence of Pedro Castillo into political life. Even if he did not win, this could be his start as leader of the sectors that bet on a different Peru.
By Cuban members of Latin American Studies Association.
Spanish original, comments, and a place to sign on here:
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
On relations between LASA and its Cuban membership.
For more than forty years, against all odds, relations of collaboration and exchange have been forged between Latin Americanists and academic institutions in the United States and Cuba. This cooperation has been possible because the spirit of dialogue and goodwill has prevailed over ideological differences, and has been able to overcome, with intelligence and perseverance, all obstacles, which have been legion. Wind and tide have included the legacy of mistrust, ideological mistrust, bureaucratic obstacles, attempts to hijack, politicize or instrumentalize the meeting spaces, among them, the one offered by the Latin American Studies Association (LASA).
No other North American institution has contributed so much to open the way for cooperation and to develop mutual trust between the two sides. Through that door opened thanks to the perseverance and patience of both sides, other institutions, universities, NGOs, foundations, research centers, agencies, organizations, and a stream of academics and intellectuals, artists and professionals in communication, social research and the sciences, have built, step by step, an alternative path, both to interference and to the fortress mentality under siege. Their merit, after more than four decades, has been to prevent the closing of a window of dialogue and understanding between civil societies and the culture of both shores, to create a climate of academic freedom, and to promote critical and rigorous social sciences and humanities.
So much progress has been made that LASA decided 24 years ago to set up a Cuba Section. This existed only with some countries in the field of Latin American studies, charged with fostering exchange and making democratic decisions regarding mutual relations, with the active presence of academics from both sides, both in its membership and in its governance. Each year, access to the Section’s membership and steering committee has been open to all persons eligible for membership in LASA. Its positions have been elected through open nomination and secret and direct elections. The Section’s membership and access to these positions have followed LASA’s own rules, which do not discriminate on the basis of gender, skin color or political ideology. Cuban members, particularly those of us who have played a role in promoting this exchange, have actively contributed to the respect for these rules.
Cuba should not be measured by a different yardstick than other Latin American countries, nor the United States itself. In fact, rejecting double standards and preconditions have been premises for intellectuals and artists involved in this exchange. LASA, however, has favored the continuity of our presence with specific policies for its Cuban members. It has made an effort to compensate for the disadvantages produced by US policies against Cuba. These reflect a Cold War pattern, which limits our access to those spaces; but also that of Latin Americanists there, whose research and academic and cultural programs in Cuba have been hindered, among other things, by mechanisms designed to prevent their counterparts from receiving direct support from the US. When LASA has adopted such special policies towards residents in Cuba, as well as when it has explicitly condemned the blockade, it has been consistent with an institutional position opposed to any ideological discrimination and in favor of the professional interest of its members.
The recent “Pronouncement on the protection of human rights in Cuba” does not facilitate the continuation of this pattern of understanding, nor does it contribute to the dialogue that has characterized our collaboration. Its effect is evidenced by the negative reactions it has elicited from both sides, in a short period of time, against LASA’s leadership, from opposing positions on the political spectrum.
This “Pronouncement” arose from a letter originally signed by a score of members, and a majority of non-members, which was echoed by the association’s Secretariat, despite being written in a tone alien to the respect it seeks to promote. Although the LASA “Pronouncement” does not have the character of a resolution, nor the tone of the letter that originated it, it does adopt a unilateral attitude, alien to the dialogue that has characterized relations. It states that LASA’s rejection of the blockade does not imply ignoring its “commitment to the values of freedom of expression, academic freedom and respect for human rights in the context of democracy, sovereignty and the rule of law.” As if those principles and values were alien to many of us, it adopts a sobering and strange tone, after so long of dialoguing and listening to each other.
If that text had been discussed with the members of the Cuba Section, we could have debated its real contribution and effectiveness in promoting academic freedoms and human rights. We could have explained how, throughout these difficult years, we have worked to expand critical discussion of our problems, not only in academic and cultural circles, but in civil society and among Cuban citizens, on the island and in the United States. We could have demonstrated how the exercise of academic freedom has extended to LASA’s exchange with institutions, researchers, professors and practicing artists throughout Cuba, beyond capital elites, who sometimes arrogate to themselves national representation. We would have presented a view of our problems, like the one we usually bring to LASA panels, neither satisfied nor apologetic, sharing lessons learned about democracy and sovereignty, from the concrete experience of having fought for both, as well as for a rule of law, which the current Constitution incorporates, and whose realization requires a climate of dialogue and understanding. None of the above is substituted by unilateral judgments.
This message from us to the LASA Secretariat does not suggest that it abused its prerogatives under the association’s bylaws, nor does it purport to represent the consensus of the Cuba Section. Nor should it be confused with any of the attacks against LASA that have been circulating in recent days. We write it as simple members of LASA, recognized by the award that the Section grants in democratic consultation with its members, for contributing to the development of this relationship. From that condition, we advocate constructive communication that avoids bad precedents and wars of pronouncements, the uncovering of which for any possible reason arising here or there would be harmful to bridges already exposed to incessant hostility.
It is no secret that during the short summer of the Obama administration, cultural and academic exchanges were the areas where most progress was made in terms of inter-institutional agreements. As is well-known, ideological polarization is the last thing that changes in Cuba need, as well as the delayed path of cooperation between Washington and Havana.
Only through the continuity of that dialogue, and the application of the concepts that govern LASA as an institution, will we be able to preserve a collaboration that has been an example of democracy and mutual respect, as well as contribute to the protection of our freedoms and human rights practices in the field of education and culture, here and there.
Aurelio Alonso Tejada
Miguel Barnet Lanza
Pedro Pablo Rodriguez
Spanish original, comments, and a place to sign on here:
By José Ernesto Nováez Guerrero*
Sunday, May 30, 2021
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews
For decades, the big cartelized media have been practicing the permanent symbolic assassination of Cuba and its revolution. The great sin of the island, in the eyes of these hired assassins of the word, is and will be to try to build a social order different from the one that prevails in the contemporary world. Cuba’s main danger lies in its example.
The Cuban political process is rooted in a beautiful and complex symbiosis, where the ideals of sovereignty and social justice that make up the project of nationhood of the 19th century and that have in the figure of Martí one of their highest expressions, find their political form and definitive realization in the socialist practice emanating from the revolutionary triumph of January 1959.
The symbols that sustain the Cuban nation have a double revolutionary sense: the independence and liberal sense of the nineteenth century and the national and socialist sense of the twentieth century. Both senses complement each other. Between both revolutionary processes, as a nourishing bridge, stands the vital practice of figures like Mella, Villena, Guiteras, Fidel, etc. In their thought and action Cuba found its revolutionary reworking the project of a country that had been frustrated with the gringo invasion of 1898 and the subsequent political and economic subjection. These were a result of the penetration of the northern capitals and the treacherous Platt Amendment, which gave the powerful neighbor the right to intervene in the island whenever it considered it necessary.
In this double character of the symbols of the Cuban nation lies one of the spaces of dispute. Anti-communism rescues the symbols of the 19th century in what they are most liberal. It ignores that continuum of ethical aspirations that Cintio Vitier described so well in his book That Sun of the Moral World, which gives a unitary sense to the totality of Cuba’s revolutionary practice and aspirations.
But it also confronts the two Cubas, the one before and the one after 1959, presenting the former as the paradise of opulence that was only for a few and the latter as the image of destruction and ruins that it is not.
To construct this narrative, they appeal to actors of the counterrevolution that we could call traditional, but also to new operators, oriented to population sectors where the economic crisis, the emerging liberal ideology and certain errors committed in political practice have created moods that can be used as part of subversive agendas.
The work with young people, the sustained attack against culture and institutions, the greater awareness of historical dates and their symbolism demonstrate a more careful work at the time of constructing the narrative of subversion.
This symbolic assault counts, in the current Cuban scenario, on an important tool: social networks, mainly Facebook, where more than 70 percent of Cuban Internet users are currently located. This network, following clearly ideological matrixes, makes visible and reinforces certain contents while isolating others and arbitrarily blocking or closing accounts and contents that in any way reinforce the symbolic position of the Cuban revolution. This has been the case, for a long time, with information related to Cuban vaccine candidates or with the accounts of important news sites on the island, such as Cubadebate.
Behind all these processes of practical and symbolic subversion of the established order are the interests of big U.S. capital. Cuba represents a double challenge for imperialism: to have broken with its domination and to demonstrate that, in spite of the growing hostility, it is possible to advance in the construction of a more just society.
To wage the symbolic battle for the nation in these circumstances implies, above all, the clarity that building an alternative social project to capitalism requires a constant educational effort to make people understand and interact socially on a new logic. It is necessary, as Che Guevara pointed out, while building new relations of production, to form a new person, one where material stimulus and individualism are no longer the main engines of his social practice. It is a difficult task, but not impossible.
It is also necessary to understand the necessary process of renewing and visiting the symbols. These are not cold stone, but are the sap in which the projects of human beings are reflected, nourished and grow. Cubans are, like all peoples, a great mixture of past, present and future. Today the symbolic Cuba is as much Martí and Fidel, as the small bulbs of Soberana and Abdala.
* Cuban journalist, writer and researcher.
May 27, 2021
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
No one should be surprised that a baseball player dreams of playing and succeeding in the Major Leagues, just as any soccer player can dream of playing in the leagues of England, Spain, Germany or Italy. It is a perfectly natural and irreproachable aspiration.
The U.S. government’s policy against the people of Cuba makes it impossible for a Cuban baseball player to try to fulfill that dream in the same way that a player from any other country could, by means of legal and contractual mechanisms that allow each party involved (athletes and sports federations of the countries involved) to protect their legitimate interests.
For decades, this situation has allowed athlete traffickers and the Major Leagues to benefit from numerous Cuban athletes, trained for years in their country of origin, without having to make the corresponding consideration, compensation or economic indemnification to the Cuban Baseball Federation.
In the face of such flagrant theft of sports talent, it should be expected that the National Institute of Sports, Physical Education and Recreation (INDER) is keeping a detailed historical inventory in all sports disciplines, with the corresponding updated economic valuation of the compensations due to the Cuban sports federations, which could be very useful the day the U.S. government decides to return to a civilized dialogue with its Cuban counterpart.
On the other hand, while the desire of a baseball player to play in the Major Leagues is irreproachable, the decision of an athlete to abandon a team while taking advantage of an international commitment, leaving his teammates in a compromising situation and disappointing an entire people who are waiting for the results of their national team, is totally reprehensible from an ethical point of view.
However, in this commentary I would like to emphasize the economic dimension of the issue. Sports activity in Cuba is ultimately financed by each of the Cuban citizens who, directly or indirectly, contribute economically to the State. Therefore, Cuban citizens have every right to demand and receive the consideration corresponding to the financing of sports activity in Cuba, which is none other than the duty of athletes to represent local teams and national teams with dedication, professionalism and dignity.
For his preparation in the national baseball team and to be able to get to Florida, César Prieto was totally financed by Cuban citizens, in order to cover his salary, food, lodging, transportation, medical attention, visa procedures, plane ticket, among other possible expenses. Given their decision to defect, one might wonder who will compensate the Cuban citizens for the economic damage caused. In Cuba’s current situation (pandemic, intensified economic blockade, generalized shortages and deep economic crisis), it should be kept in mind that the expenses destined to the preparation of Cuban athletes must necessarily be subtracted from the resources available for the medical care of the sick and convalescents of the Covid-19, the feeding of Cuban children and the care of our elderly, just to mention three examples.
I do not feel the slightest personal animosity against Cesar Prieto, not even now that he has decided to carry the heavy stigma of desertion for the rest of his life. I have long admired his extraordinary athletic talent and, in fact, have been hoping for a couple of years now that he would find a way to make his way to the Major Leagues.
I only wish he had done so with dignity and courage, freeing himself of his commitments to the Cuban Baseball Federation beforehand. However, I understand that in this day and age, perhaps that is too much to ask and that, ultimately, his defection is just one of the many systemic effects of the criminal policy of the U.S. government against the Cuban people.
The permanence and the intensification of such policy raise the need for the Cuban State, taking advantage of the current process of legal reforms, to establish more effective and sophisticated contractual and legal mechanisms to protect the economic rights of citizens against the damages caused by sports defections. If we multiply the case of César Prieto by all the desertions that have historically occurred in national teams in all sports disciplines, we could see the considerable economic damage caused to the Cuban people by the theft of sports talent.
Although I am not an expert in the matter, I wonder if the properties of all kinds that the sports deserters might have left in Cuba could not be seized, confiscated or used in some way to compensate for the economic damage caused to the Cuban people. On the other hand, the corresponding administrative and legal mechanisms should be established so that the sports deserters, if one day they decide to visit or return to the country, would have to assume the corresponding civil liability and compensate the people for the economic damages caused.
Obviously, the application of mechanisms of this nature should not be limited to sports deserters, but should be extended to all professional fields.