I don’t really need to explain my opposition to the illegal Cuban blockade to most readers here I am sure.  There are a great many reasons over a great period of time that go to expose the USA government’s double standards and hypocrisy,  some are more baffling than others but none more so perhaps in terms of petulance at the very least than the embargo preventing Cuba from being able to play in its first international cricket tournament.  

The basic situation is that since the tournament is funded by an American businessman, Allen Stanford (a Texan billionaire) he must seek approval from the US government in order to obtain “permission” to enter into a commercial arrangement with Cuba.  This permission was denied by the US government on Tuesday. Leaving aside the fact that the US government must still be smarting from its humiliating baseball defeats to the Cubans and consequently have probably been looking for an opportunity to get their own back for ages, one is struck by the ludicrous futility of such an action.  It is hardly likely to keep Raúl Castro awake at nights the fact that his flanneled boys will not be able to take the field against the other Caribbean island nations in Antigua in January.  In fact the only ones it is likely to effect is the Cubans who might be in the squad to play and the growth of the sport in Cuban schools.  It is of course possible that the US government think that cricket, rather than being a sport, is some elaborate oil agreement…  In truth this is likely to be a way for the US to derail Cuban attempts to be more allied and affiliated with other Caribbean nations, Cuba became an affiliate member of the International Cricket Council in 2002.  

Such a move would further entrench the Cuban move away from a more US-centric and dominated way of life something that the emigrées in Miami are likely to feel most strongly about. Initially cricket development was slow in Cuba (there was a history of games in the early 20th century brought by workers in the sugar industry but it had largely died out in recent times up to the early 1990’s) partially because with it not being an Olympic sport there was not the chance to play and humiliate the US as had been done with baseball, however support came from covert Alberto Juantorena, the former double gold-medallist at 400m and 800m, and now Leona Ford, a Babajan, is now President of the Commission of Rescue and Development of Cricket in Cuba, and now enjoys the support of the state sports ministry. There are now around 500 players including those in Havana and this easily outnumbers Bermuda who recently participated in the ICC World Cup. Cricket is being taught in 13 of Cuba’s 15 provinces and more than 20 teams took part in a national under-15 tournament in 2006, former Indian One-day all rounder Robin Singh, himself Caribbean-born, travelled to Cuba in 2007 forming a coaching team to train young players.

Cuban regime critics have noted that there is prize money at stake in the Stanford 20/20 competition as if this somehow exonerates the US government’s ridiculous decision. However they of course make no mention that in October this year the UN voted for the 16th successive year to recommend that the US stops its blockade of Cuba. The vote was 184 to 4 against with one abstention. The 4 votes were the US, Israel, Palau and the Marshal Islands with the abstention being Micronesia. Interestingly Palau, Micronesia and the Marshall Islands all obtained independence from US-administered UN protectorates and have since signed a Compact of Free Association. In 2003, the Compacts between the RMI and FSM were renewed for 20 years (Palau’s does not expire until 2009) and this provided US$3.5 billion in funding for both nations. This is a useful gauge to tell us exactly what the purchasable value of a UN vote is. [The combined population of these 3 territories is 191,305, add this to the estimated 303,018,000 in the US and 7,184,000 in Israel to get 310,393,305. Naturally this would not compare favourably with the population of all the countries against the blockade which stands at 6,360,832,695 but I’m no expert in democracy, and neither, clearly is the US government!] (If you’re interested the $3.5billion equates to a subsidy of $20,532 per person in the 2 territories but one must conceivably offset the fact that the area in the Marshall Islands was where the US tested its largest atomic weaponry.)

According to the Daily Telegraph (which must find itself in something of a quandry here!) Cuban cricketers are, like most converts from baseball, exceptional fielders and catchers, but have a tendency to bend the arm when bowling, drop their bats when running and cannot quite get the hang of the extra-cover drive! As a long-standing advocat and practitioner of the extra-cover drive I find that once again my support is for the Cubans in their endeavours against the evil Yanqui.

Song Of The Day ~ Pink Floyd – High Hopes