During the Playoffs Many Cubans Feel Like a People

Yenisel Rodriguez Perez

HAVANA TIMES — The state is nothing, the people are everything. This is why we see state institutions trying to prey on the popular enthusiasm for the current national baseball playoffs.

This is one of the few genuinely popular festivities that still survive in Cuba. And this is especially true in the capital, where the anti-popular policies of the state have been the most radical in their attempt to contain any civic potential that characterizes cosmopolitan cities like Havana.

Many people look forward to the playoffs so that they can in some way participate in an activity of the people. When a team in the series performs well, a miracle occurs. Nothing and no one is able to repress or oppose the joy, laughter and euphoria of its followers.

As the current Cuban baseball playoffs enter its final stretch, two provinces are favored to enjoy the divine grace of those temporary liberties and licenses conceded to the plebeian masses.

All that’s needed is for some significant occurrence in the playoffs to make known what remains of us as a people – with our hatreds and loves, but also still possessing shades of public-spiritedness, political judgment and popular activism.

Some days ago, just minutes after the Ciego de Avila team beat the Las Tunas squad in the quarter-finals, one of its members was surprised to see how the fans “hit the streets in celebration.”

In his province they waited for them to celebrate the last day of carnival, something I imagine must be quite special.

To be a people means needing to take part in activities involving collective and genuine emotion. Today the national baseball playoffs makes me feel like I have a sense of “the people,” it makes me feel a part of them…giving me a sense of us.

If the team from the capital wins, the city will re-live that collective ecstasy that many of us residents of the Santos Suarez neighborhood have experienced.

What will be decided on the playing field will be those who will experience the joy of winning the playoffs!

…even if it’s only a temporary political ecstasy in a society mired in the complete sclerosis of the state.


Yenisel Rodriguez

Yenisel Rodriguez Perez: I have lived in Cuba my entire life, except for several months in 2013 when I was in Miami with my father. Despite the 90 miles that separate Havana and Miami, I find profound reasons in both for political and community activism. My encounter with socio-cultural anthropology eight years ago prepared me for a commitment of love for cultural diversity.

One thought on “During the Playoffs Many Cubans Feel Like a People

  • As a frequent commenter to Havana Times, I have been called “gloom and doom”, “pessimistic” and those were the compliments! Now I wish to say something good about Cuba. I went to a national championship baseball game two years ago in the Latino America stadium. I think it costs me 10cup to get in. Everyone there was well-behaved (no beer or rum is sold) and it was truly a family-style outing. I also went to a World Series Game here in the US last fall. I had lower deck seats near first base. My tickets were $250 apiece! There was an idiot drunk out his mind two rows above me. He and his cohorts were screaming obscenities like someone was paying them to do it. If the ticket price didn’t kill the “family” atmosphere, the $5.00 12-ounce beers certainly did. There was no comparison in terms of fan-friendliness. …. OK, I can’t resist this, the bathrooms in the Cuban stadium were deplorable, If there were 15,000 fans there must have been 5,000 police. The games were all played in the daytime because there were no working lights for night games. No shade to be found anywhere so the sun took its toll. And so on. Still, Cuba did more right than they did wrong with this one.

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