Declaration by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
On March 19, 2023, during the semifinal between Cuba and the USA of the 5th World Baseball Classic at the LoanDepot Park stadium in Miami, Florida, there were regrettable and dangeroU.S. incidents targeting the Cuban team, which Cuba vigoroU.S.ly condemns.
It was a difficult game. The Cuban team was there to give a good account of itself, having reached the semifinal by virtue of well-merited results. It faced a team known for its technical superiority – and which won the game by a wide margin. The conduct of the American team and its management was respectful and consistent with the sporting spirit that should prevail at such events. Its victory was well deserved.
However, the Cuban team was also confronted by repugnant, organized hostility, in contrast with the messages of recognition, support and solidarity it received from a large number of people in the United States, mainly Cubans or persons of Cuban descent, a substantial proportion of these being residents of Miami itself.
With the clear intention of upsetting the team, there were repeated actions of varioU.S. kinds expressing hostility towards the players, the accompanying Cuban delegation and the team’s supporters in the stadium. The affronts included direct acts of aggression, threats, vulgar and offensive language, attacks aimed at undermining the team’s morale and other incidents intended to sap the Cuban players’ spirit and sully the occasion. These were occurrences inimical to any notion of a sporting event of this kind.
No attempt was made to enforce the stadium rules for maintaining order and good behavior, a situation marked by clear complicity on the part of certain of the stadium’s representatives and employees and of local authorities – in particular those responsible for maintaining order and security.
Objects were thrown at the players and their families – which included women, children and elderly persons – and at members of the delegation and the Cuban press corps, and at supporters of the Cuban team. On three occasions, “spectators” invaded the pitch during the game, interrupting play, which compromised the safety and concentration of the Cuban players. There were repeated affronts, and threats shouted at the players when their turn came to bat or when preparing to join the game, as happened to the Cuban pitcher Frank Abel Álvarez when he was warming up in the bullpen; such behavior flies in the face of MLB (major-league baseball) rules and any notion of clean sport. There was a constant display of placards with political slogans, as well as obscene language, disrespectful to players and spectators alike, which detracted from enjoyment of the game. Likewise, some of the crowd wore garments bearing offensive wording or images, of a political character, in breach of the stadium regulations.
The stadium’s code of conduct for guests was also repeatedly infringed by the excessive consumption of alcohol and failure to respect reserved seating.
Most of the times representatives of the Cuban delegation or of MBL approached police officers to report the above-described offenses, no action was taken against the offenders.
Each of the behaviors concerned was sufficient caU.S.e for immediate expulsion, summons, arrest or some other legal consequence, but none arose. These occurrences marred an event that has deep cultural roots for both countries.
The Ministry deplores the complicity demonstrated by the local authorities, which allowed and created the conditions for the flagrant commission of these acts with impunity. It also vigoroU.S.ly condemns the inciting by local politicians and other holders of public office to indiscipline, aggression towards and besieging of the players. The acquiescence of the forces of law and order, failing in their duty, encouraged the committing of a series of aggressive actions.
These were the same elements that in 2018 sabotaged the agreement between the Cuban Baseball Federation and MLB, which would have benefited all concerned and contributed to ending the discriminatory treatment suffered by the Cuban sportsmen and women.
The Cuban government alerted the U.S. administration in good time, through diplomatic channels, to the open, public threats that were planned to tarnish the Cuban team’s participation in the Miami leg of the championship and the corrupt and irresponsible conduct of the Miami authorities.
The Cuban team did not participate in the event on an equal footing. Long before the start of the championship, our team was subjected to a complex and discriminatory process whereby MLB was required to apply far in advance for approval of the relevant licenses by the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control. This process included a special permit for Cuba’s participation in the event, followed by another for incorporating the Cuban MLB players and, later, yet another to confirm their early incorporation with the rest of the team. The permits issued expressly prohibited several of the team members from traveling to Cuba with their teammates after the championship. All this clouded Cuban participation in the World Baseball Classic and implied exceptional disadvantages.
Cuban sportsmen and women have participated in sporting events in numerous American cities and in other countries without being faced with the climate of hostility that is apparently peculiar to Miami. Cuba has no intention of giving up its right to compete on equal terms on U.S. soil. By contrast, Cuba will continue to honor its commitments as host in all the international competitions held in our country, at which sportsmen and women from all over the world, including the U.S., have always been enthU.S.iastically welcomed and treated with respect.
The above-described occurrences demonstrate yet again that Miami does not comply with the minimum requirements for hosting international events and that its authorities bear the responsibility for that shameful fact.
Cuba is appreciative of the many fans and all those in the Miami stadium and elsewhere who welcomed gladly and in a sporting spirit the Cuban team’s participation in the Classic and that it reached the semifinal with a mixed team of Cubans resident in Cuba and abroad. Many approached the team to offer their support and solidarity.
The Cuban people experienced exciting days as they followed their team from the first games and were themselves hurt by the affront orchestrated by the extremist elements that assailed the team and persecuted those who, through Team Asere, realized the dream of a Cuban team incorporating Cuban players in MLB and in the leagues of other countries. Cuba remains ready to repeat the experience. Love of Cuba and love of sport will always prevail over hate.
Havana, March 22, 2023
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