Attacks on Cuban baseball are nothing new, and it is not surprising that the Caribbean Confederation of Professional Baseball (CBPC) has decided to forego our participation in the next Caribbean Series, in Puerto Rico, referring to supposed difficulties caused by the limited time available to process U.S. visas needed to travel to that nation.
The Caribbean Series, which began in Havana in 1949, and the CBPC, also founded in the same city, in 1948, were born of Cuban baseball’s prestige and our thinking, as has been documented in studies by researchers Felix Julio Alfonso, Oscar Fernandez, and Tony Perez, among others.
But the competition and its organizational structure function under the auspices of U.S. baseball, or in other words, the decisions of Caribbean baseball have been subordinated to the imperial master who hates Cuba and our baseball, conscious that the game is part of our identity and an undeniable symbol of our nationality.
In 2018, in Guadalajara, Cuba expressed its willingness to organize the 2020 tournament, and there CBPC president José Francisco Puello, told Granma: “My dream is to have the Series in Cuba, in Latinoamericano Stadium. It would be a show I wouldn’t want to miss. I don’t want to leave this position without making that wish come true.” Last year, in Panama, he once again told this newspaper of his aspirations, but recalling that there is no license allowing a contractual relationship with Cuba, he invoked his religious faith. “God willing it will be resolved and before I leave here, may the dream come true.”
And now he has stopped dreaming, forbidden by the devil, he doesn’t even consider the possibility of Cuba playing in Puerto Rico. “The CBPC simply gives in to arbitrary pressure from the U.S. government and joins in other deceptive actions by its Commissioner, who has also hindered Cuba’s full membership in this genuinely Caribbean organization,” the Cuban Baseball Federation rightly stated.
Leaving Cuba out of the Caribbean Series, the founding soul and promoter of quality baseball in the region and its tournament, is not new either. In 1960, after the Cienfuegos team won that year in Panama, pressure began from the Major League Baseball Commissioner to exclude us, preventing U.S. professionals from coming to play in the 1961 tournament, held in Havana, including those competing in Venezuela, Puerto Rico and Panama.
Alfonso, Fernandez and Perez, in their research on federations of that time, quoted the October 13, 1960 edition of the newspaper Hoy: “To hold the Caribbean Series outside of Cuba, and without the presence of Cuba, would be to deal a mortal blow to the Caribbean Confederation.”
The position of the Cuban league was to repeat its offer to hold the event in Cuba, with the support of the General Sports Directorate, its director Felipe Guerra Matos, and the Revolution led by Fidel Castro Ruz. Economic success would be guaranteed, that is to say, by filling stadiums, and a sports success, by attracting the best players, while ensuring the safety of all those who came. Nonetheless, on January 3, 1961, the United States government broke relations with Cuba, and six days later the Caribbean Series was held in Miami, without Cuba. There was not another Caribbean Series until 1970.
Cuba demanded, through its baseball authorities, that the CBPC make the necessary arrangements to guarantee the participation of our team. But we are not losing any sleep over this new aggression, which discriminates against our prestigious national sports movement and baseball, which today has filled stadiums with Cubans whose hearts beat and triumph with Camagüey and Matanzas.