Fernando Ravsberg*

Only a few years ago, Cuban baseball players could not even dream of playing in professional leagues with Cuba’s authorization.
Only a few years ago, Cuban baseball players could not even dream of playing in professional leagues with Cuba’s authorization.

HAVANA TIMES — Baseball players signing million-dollar contracts abroad are not the only Cubans taking in such sums of money – they are in fact joining other sectors of the population who are already doing so under the law and without having to leave the country definitively.

The fact players have been authorized to do this is good news. It was, incidentally, one of the demands people made during the debates prior to the Congress of the Cuban Communist Party. As I recall, one of the neighborhood-level meetings I attended turned down this particular request.

One need not be alarmed by this. Ultimately, we won’t be seeing social differences more pronounced than those that already exist between the average Cuban and some musicians, the more renowned painters or some of the representatives of foreign companies.

Opening such doors to athletes is a good way of keeping them from jumping the fence. Nearly fifty years of trying to retain them by force has served only to turn Cuban teams into free training centers for the US Major Leagues.

Now, Washington is the one denying them the right to play in the United States, authorizing them to do so only if they leave Cuba definitively – and they apply this policy beyond their borders, pressuring Mexico’s baseball league to demand the same.

Athletes are not the first Cubans to take in a lot of money. Musicians, painters and actors have been doing so well before them.
Athletes are not the first Cubans to take in a lot of money. Musicians, painters and actors have been doing so well before them.

Thus, despite the island’s laxer migratory policies, in order to be able to play in the big leagues, players must continue to “flee” communism, deserting during an official trip, boarding a speedboat or crossing a border illegally.

Cubans and the Negation of Negation

Cuba’s current policy can become a more effective means of inserting the country into the world stage. Keeping sports at the amateur level may be socially commendable, but the fact is that to continue to refuse to participate in professional boxing, volleyball or baseball isolates the country and frustrates its athletes.

This is happening beyond the world of sports also: Cuba’s strategy has ceased to organize itself in contradistinction to that of the United States. They appear to be developing it with an eye on domestic needs, without focusing as much on its similarities to the policies of the “enemy.”

The fact is that rejecting everything Washington uses as a tactic to destroy the revolution would entail cutting off migratory movements, preventing the development of civil society, prohibiting the operation of urban cooperatives, denying citizens Internet access and restricting the travel of Americans.

Ignoring such a powerful and resentful neighbor would be suicidal, considering that, since March of 1959, it has tried to overthrow the Cuban government through many different means, including assassination, the organization of an invasion and an economic blockade that has lasted more than half a century.

Following the migratory reforms, many believed that Cuban medical doctors would leave the country with their families. However, tens of thousands of these doctors continue to join Cuba’s internationalist missions abroad and to return to the island.
Following the migratory reforms, many believed that Cuban medical doctors would leave the country with their families. However, tens of thousands of these doctors continue to join Cuba’s internationalist missions abroad and to return to the island.

Acting only to counter the United States’ strategies, however, can lead to a no-less suicidal paralysis, for Internet access is vital to the country even if Washington uses the Web in its plans against Havana, as the AP news agency recently revealed.

As it turns out, things have not unfolded as the United States anticipated or Cuba feared. Cuba’s migratory liberalization didn’t prompt a mass exodus, Internet access for Cubans did not swell dissident ranks and foreign contracts for sportspeople did not bolster “desertions.”

When they announced that medical doctors had been authorized to freely travel abroad, I thought that many would leave in search of higher incomes. This, however, has not happened. On the contrary, more than 11 thousand joined a mission in Brazil, and only a dozen abandoned it.

Now, Cuban baseball players Gourriel and Cepeda can play in Japan and earn hundreds of thousands of dollars, so much money, in fact, that they could even buy a new car in Cuba. They are living proof that not all citizens are equal, something that the majority of Cubans have known for a long time.

Concerns over social justice ought not long for the paralyzing egalitarianism of the past, but rather ensure equal opportunities that will allow all Cubans to forge a future for themselves, on the basis of their efforts and skills.
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Visit the blog of Fernando Ravsberg.


13 thoughts on “Equality and Social Justice among Cubans

  • Whereas I have met many Cubans who wish to leave Socialist Cuba, I have not met any who actually wish to leave their country, their community, their friends and their family. The drive to leave is fuelled by desperation and desire to escape the poverty which is imposed upon them by the Castro regime, not by outside influences. There are those pundits who sit in their comfortable armchairs in free countries pontificating about the merits which they apparently percieve in Socialismo, but they never walk the talk. Life in Socialist Cuba for Cubans is reality – it is their only life and their life is being squandered by the Castro regime. For the Castros the only way is their way and as long as they and their appointed successors retain power, nothing will change.

  • Unfortunately, there is lots of evidence. Before the Castros latched on to the Venezuelan teat, they spent 30 years sucking up to the Soviets. Billions of rubles was misspent on building an albeit enviable and costly intelligence apparatus and very little on the public infrastructure. Note that the revolution has not funded even one national infrastructure initiative in 55 years. Meanwhile, countless forays into other third world countries to destabilize if not overthrow governments. With hard currency to spend, the Castros track record speaks volumes about their spending priorities.

  • Pay some “repair”!!! Are you on crack!!! I would personally make a sign and protest outside my Congressman’s office if he voted to approve even one cent to deliver to those tyrants. Castro wanted to drop a NUCLEAR BOMB on America. Get rid of the Castros and I could begin to see some aid to projects which went directly to production facilities and infrastructure. We are friends, at least we can start out that way. However, don’t ask me to ignore the repression the Castros continue to apply to fellow Cubans simply because they disagree. You know the crap people say every day about Obama? If someone drew a cartoon in Cuba of Fidel the way they print about Obama in the New York Times, that cartoonist would go to jail. A cartoon! Where is the existential threat in a cartoon? This year, the Castros will receive around 3 million Canadians, Europeans, South Americans, and even Americans. The tourism revenue they receive is exceeded only by the revenue received from the sale of medical services. Why would the revenues from an estimated 1 million more American tourists suddenly cause the Castros to change their policy after 55 years of tyranny? Raul has said there will be NO political reform. History tells us that dictators like the Castros only respond to force. We are friends, but we simply disagree. In Cuba, that would mean one of us would go to jail.

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