Industriales: A Force for Cuban Unity

Yadira Escobar (Progreso Weekly)

Lazaro Vargas speaks with the Miami press upon his arrival for the Industriales get together. Photo: Levi Escobar for Progreso Weekly

HAVANA TIMES – I arrived at the Miami airport at 7 p.m. on Sunday (Aug. 11) and, standing at the international arrivals gate, prepared myself to see Cuba’s most famous baseball team up close. I was the first journalist to arrive, but very quickly the place filled with people who eagerly awaited their ballplayers.

We began to see blue caps and jerseys with the unmistakable logo. Rumors spread that they might arrive earlier, or later, or would come in through another door. All rumors were an anxious expression of the general nervousness.

Up and down the stairs we ran, asking questions all the way, because no one was sure where they would come through, not even the fellows with the big cameras from the major TV stations who, like me, kept checking the flight announcement boards.

Lifelong fans, new fans, curious spectators, young and old people, and a plane that never arrived. When one is waiting for something, time grows slower and heavier. Finally, one by one, emerged Cubans from the same flight, who burst out laughing nervously as they saw so many cameras and lights aimed their way.

“The blues are coming,” they told us. “They’re having their baggage checked. Viva Industriales! Patience, don’t press against the glass doors. They’re all walking this way together.”

The first of the members of the group to arrive (at 10:57 p.m.) was Capiró in his wheel chair. A burst of cheers and joyful greetings welcomed him. I could practically touch that deep national feeling that unites us beyond any differences when the others arrived and the hugging began, the Cubanness and the contagious happiness of such a beautiful encounter.

Baseball reminds us that we are a single people and that our present citizenship does not matter when we can meet, in time and space, as Cubans.

Amid the noise and joy, some pseudo-journalists showed up with ill-intentioned questions, divisive tricks, efforts to trip us, in order to politicize a purely sports project, but the people and the ballplayers stuck to that project, which is – above all – to celebrate the Industriales’ 50th anniversary despite any obstacles.

I repeatedly asked if they were aware of the last-minute difficulties in finding a field for the Miami games and I was amazed at their emotion-filled willingness to play anywhere, so long as they can satisfy their fans and supporters.

Waiting for the arrival Sunday of the Industriales veterans at the Miami Airport. Photo: Levi Escobar for Progreso Weekly

As good Cubans, they are simple and optimistic people. Above all, they open their hearts to their brother ballplayers who now live outside Cuba. Brotherhood was in the air and I think that we have much to learn from these matches that are so healthy for the nation that we’re part of.

Industriales has just arrived in South Florida. We all know that the right-wing extremists are very irritated by their presence because it unites Cubans. The policy that is based on separation, tension and resentment must be put aside right now.

It is futile to try to impede Cuba’s advance toward a better future and – while it’s true that at the last minute the extremists hindered the project of Somos Cuba (the organizers) by suspending the permit to play on the FIU campus – the enthusiasm of Industriales is huge.

One thought on “Industriales: A Force for Cuban Unity

  • Yadira’s comments reflect the one-sided view that regime sycophants often profess. It is always “unity and brotherhood’ so long as it sustains the regime and the status quo. Alternative views and opinions, however peaceful, are always seen as divisive and unpatriotic. Yoani Sanchez is every bit as Cuban as every member of the Industriales team. Yet, somehow, Yadira is not as welcoming when Sra. Sanchez comes to visit.

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