How Baseball diplomacy brought two rivals together | Arriba Cuba


Baseball is a passion shared by
all Cubans. And the first-ever Olympic gold
medal in baseball goes to Cuba! Since baseball was introduced
in Cuba from the US, Cubans fell in love with it
with such passion. In Cuba, baseball runs
through our veins. And that’s the ball game!
Cuba defeats the United States. There is no other public event
in Cuba that draws as many fans and as much commentary
and public debate as baseball during
the last century. Baseball is our national sport. It’s tied to our identity. In many occasions, it expressed the highest
levels of national pride. The victories and baseball were
seen as proof of what Cubans were capable of in the
international arena. (ARRIBA CUBA –
THE BASEBALL DIPLOMACY) Baseball is part
of the identity of Cubans. It became a sport around
the 18th and 19th centuries. And, like boxing,
became popular amongst low-income classes. Since those times, baseball has been
part of our national identity. Before the Revolution,
there was a championship with four professional teams. After the triumph of
the Revolution, Commander-in-chief Fidel Castro
banned professional sports. That’s how baseball
was brought to the masses, in a totally new amateur league
which didn’t feature any of the pro players
from the pro teams – Havana, Almendares,
Cienfuegos and Marianao. The triumph of the Revolution
in 1959, identified sport as a source for the wellbeing
of the people. It declared sports a right
of the people. Sports were meant to bring
joy to the nation. It’s no secret that
Major League Baseball, played in the US,
is the best in the world. Many have had to
leave our country to be able to play in the majors in the US. There are many players
shining there who were trained here in Cuba. Omar Linares was
an extraordinary player. He was one of those who stayed
in Cuba, who didn’t go to the Major League, even though
he was more than qualified. He could have shined in the US. (MANY CUBAN BASEBALL STARS
FOREGO MAJOR-LEAGUE FAME) (SOME CAN RESIST
THE LURE OF AMERICAN DOLLARS) I played with the national
team for more than 17 years and I received offers every
year. I rejected all of them, because this is where I got
my education and training. And here, I was given every
opportunity to prove that despite the embargo,
Cuban sports are still alive. Cuban baseball has proven that
it’s among the best. I have always played here
and I will remain here. Ladies and gentlemen,
the medals will be presented by Mr James L Easton,
International Olympic Committee member of the
United States of America. Omar received multiple offers, but wasn’t interested
in the money. He felt bound to his country
and his people and he put his ideology first. He knew the role
he played in his country. He received multimillion
dollar offers, but that proved
one of his virtues. That, for him, his Cuba was
more important than all the money
in the world. It’d be hard to imagine, that the first visit in decades
of a US president to Cuba wouldn’t include the cultural
event that more closely brings Cuba and the US
together, and that’s baseball. (OBAMA BRINGS BASEBALL
DIPLOMACY TO CUBA) Sports is an ambassador that
creates ties between countries. It didn’t happen by chance. It was a well-thought-out plan
to create a symbol that represented that,
among our many differences, there are also
things that we share. I hope that baseball can
contribute somehow to bring Cuba and the US closer. It’ll be long before
anyone can forget that the presidents of the US
and Cuba took a break during their negotiations
to go to the old Latin American Stadium
to watch a baseball game. But that baseball game
meant much more, it was a demonstration of the
many things that unite us. And one of them is baseball.

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