Fwd: Revolution can be fun

Macdonald Stainsby mstainsby at SPAMhotmail.com
Fri Nov 19 07:16:37 MST 1999

>From: "richard w. rozoff" <rrozoff at rush.edu>
>Reply-To: cubasi at egroups.com
>To: cubasi at egroups.com
>Subject: [Cuba SI] Revolution can be fun
>Date: Fri, 19 Nov 1999 01:42:41 -0500 (EST)
>  Castro Outwits Chavez in LatAm Baseball Game
>             1.47 a.m. ET (657 GMT) November 19, 1999
>  HAVANA — Latin America's baseball-crazy presidents Fidel Castro of
>Cuba and
>  Hugo Chavez of Venezuela squared off on Thursday in a friendly game
>  ties between the region's oldest and youngest "revolutionary'' leaders.
>  The 55,000-strong capacity crowd at Havana's Latinoamericano
>stadium rose to
>  their feet in a rapturous welcome as the flamboyant pair led their teams
>of veterans
>  out for a game shown live on local television in both nations.
>  Aided by some young professionals disguised as bearded veterans in
>the final
>  innings, Castro's team ran out 5-4 winners over a light-hearted,
>  encounter.
>  But both presidents, beaming and sweaty after the long- awaited game,
>  regional unity to be the night's winner.
>  "There is nothing better than sport to unite peoples in their souls. This
>is a
>  wonderful Havana night,'' said Chavez, 45, who pitched four innings for
>his team.
>  The Venezuelan paratrooper-turned-president, who dreamed as a youth
>of making
>  it as a pitcher in the U.S. Major League, drew roars of "Chavez!
>Chavez!'' as he
>  jogged round the field twice before play started.
>  The invitation-only crowd also chanted "Fidel! Fidel!'' as the name of
>Castro —
>  wearing baseball cap and tracksuit-top over military trousers and boots
>— was
>  announced as manager of the host team.
>  Start of play was delayed for several minutes, as the bearded Castro,
>73, signed
>  autographed balls for the awe-struck Venezuelan players before taking
>his play in
>  the dugout.
>  Venezuelan First Lady Marisabel de Chavez pitched the first ball,
>before her
>  husband nervously took the mound. The Cuban sluggers at first had
>little mercy, but
>  Chavez gradually found his rhythm to pitch respectably over four
>  "I want to congratulate him. He pitched excellently,'' Castro said
>afterwards. "That
>  is why we brought on our 'reserves' — from the team that won the
>  Games in Winnipeg — dressed up as old men. The objective wasn't to
>win, but to
>  have a joke on Chavez.''
>  Castro, using binoculars at times to watch the game, appeared
>engrossed in the
>  details at first, frequently standing up to give instructions. But he
>relaxed as the
>  game went on, guffawing with laughter toward the end.
>  With Castro on the manager's bench, also dressed in the Cuban
>national team's
>  tracksuit, were two of his closest political allies, Vice President
>Lage and
>  Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque.
>  The teams consisted of veteran baseball stars from both nations, who
>share a
>  passion for baseball that stands out in a mainly soccer-loving region.
>As the team
>  lineups were read out, the crowd cheered their heroes of yesteryear,
>and players
>  whose ages ranged from 40-something to 60-something raised their
>  one-by-one in salute.
>  Critics of Chavez and Castro — who share charismatic personalities,
>leftist roots,
>  an internationalist vision, and autocratic tendencies — will see the game
>as a
>  publicity stunt characteristic of their populist styles.
>  But there was no doubting the genuine passion evoked among Cuban
>fans, eager to
>  enjoy a night of baseball rather than the dry political discourses which
>  dominate evening programming on their two state-run television
>  "It's a fantastic game!'' euphoric Cuban fan David Gonzalez, 23, said,
>from his seat
>  in the Latinoamericano stadium.
>  Latin American diplomats in Havana noted that beyond the purely
>  connotations, the game sealed a personal friendship and political
>alliance that has
>  become one of the strongest in the region.
>  Castro, who led his 1959 revolution when Chavez was just four,
>awarded his
>  Venezuelan counterpart Cuba's highest honor, the Order of Jose Marti,
>in a
>  ceremony Wednesday night that underscored the pair's mutual respect.
>  Chavez, a former failed military coup leader cast as another
>  during Venezuela's election campaign last year, lavishly praised "my
>brother, Fidel''
>  during a speech at Havana University before Thursday's game.
>  "Here we are, Fidel and Hugo, Cuba and Venezuela, more alive than
>ever, and
>  more united than ever,'' he said, hailing Castro's revolution as a
>"landmark of dignity
>  in Latin America, an example of dignity and courage for our peoples.''
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