Cuba’s Press and the Cepeda Affair

Rosa Martinez

Frederich Cepeda in his Sancti Spiritus uniform.

HAVANA TIMES, Oct. 20 — A few days ago the new Cuban baseball roster was announced for the Intercontinental Cup to take place starting October 23 in Chinese Taipei.

The restructuring of Team Cuba has generated more than a few comments in our country among the followers of the national sport, especially over the exclusion of Sancti Spiritus slugger Frederich Cepeda.

It seems that we Cubans have gotten used to being misinformed about the principal issues that affect our society, since the national and provincial media report only on parts of our lives – the ones hardly ever of interest.  It’s not by chance that people say that life exists on the one hand and the Cuban press on the other.

I can cite, for example, the cases of four baseball players on the provincial baseball team in Guantanamo who were expelled for “committing serious acts of indiscipline,” according to a report in the local press.  The media here in Guantanamo didn’t give any details, but people —long accustomed to such shorthand— investigated into what actually happened, and they found the answer: Roenis Elias, Onelkis Garcia (pitchers) and Rafael Ramirez had illegally left the country, while Michel Gorguet was caught trying.

“Leaving the country illegally is what is termed a ‘serious indiscipline,’” explained one Guantanamo resident.

Disrespecting the fans

But let’s return to the issue of Cepeda and his being kicked off the national team, which caused a wave of discussion and debate in homes and streets of Guantanamo and across the entire country.

In the same way that we were disappointed by the final game in the recently held pre-World Cup Tournament — lost to the Dominicans — we were also taken aback by the exclusion of Frederich Cepeda from the team that starting on Saturday, will be competing in the Intercontinental Cup, though I doubt it will wind up in first place.

Frederic Cepeda, Team Cuba's Mr. Clutch

Cepeda was voted the best designated hitter in the pre-World Cup tournament.  In international events he has also been one of the finest Cuban players over several seasons.  We all know that he’s a first rate player who has amply demonstrated his love for his team.

But the Cuban public is now wondering what’s happened to the press coverage, because no one is explaining the reason for Cepeda’s not being on the roster.  Evidently it’s easier to let Cubans speculate and to allow our imaginations to run wild than it is to simply tell the truth.  Unfortunately, this occurs with “almost everything” in our country.

Given this lack of an explanation by any of our country’s media outlets, I am sharing with the friends of Havana Times some of the readers’ comments published in the online version of the newspaper Juventud Rebelde. They were in response to that paper’s cryptic article “Cambios en el equipo cubano de béisbol a la Copa Intercontinental” (Changes in the Cuban Baseball Lineup to the Intercontinental Cup).

– “When will the press be included in the supposed changes in Cuba; how long do the people and lovers of baseball in Cuba —the ones who fill stands and are supposedly the greatest incentive for the people’s team— how long will we be misinformed…  What happened to the best hitter on the team? Where is Frederich  Cepeda Cruz?”

– “Where is Cepeda?” we ask, as we continue with these ever-existing mysteries.  It’s as if something would happen if someone was to tell us, but no one’s going to die.”

– “Reappearing is the mystery and high-handedness behind the selection of the Cuban roster. Where is Cepeda? ….in short, mum’s the word.”

– “We really don’t know why Cepeda isn’t on that team.  Please explain to us, National Baseball Commission.  We are Cubans and we love our baseball.”

– “How long will we have to put up with favoritism within the Cuban squad?  How long will we have to put up with injustices committed against the baseball players who truly deserve to be on the Cuban team?  How Long?”

– “More and more, the National Baseball Commission reminds me of the X Files.”

– “I’ve been a fan of the Havana Industriales team since I was born.  Yet I wonder what happened with Cepeda, especially since he has been so outstanding.  Could it be that the team captain said something?   Did his sporting shame lead him to make some kind of statement?”

– “There’s simply no culture of communication here.  In the press coverage for the fans, what we have is the bad habit of not explaining anything about the changes that are made, at least not the most significant ones, like in the case of Cepeda.  For once and for all they should learn to respect the public’s opinion, especially concerning issues like this.  These are ones that are of interest and stir the passions of a huge number of people in our country, and in this case we are taking about the removal of a regular fixture in all the games of the pre- World Cup as well as being the team captain.”

Editors Note:  Since this article was written a reliable but unverified source told HT that the reason for the dropping of Cepeda from the national team was his speaking at the team hotel with a former Cuban player who left the country.  When traveling to international competitions Cuban baseball players are routinely closely guarded when off the field by security personnel to avoid their having contact with anybody related to professional baseball, especially of the US Major Leagues.

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One thought on “Cuba’s Press and the Cepeda Affair

  • One wonders if he may have been dropped for reasons HE would rather not be made public. Has the author tried calling the guy up and simply asking him? This article seems to be much less about baseball than the author’s frustrations regarding the Cuban press.

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