ESPN contributor and sports radio talk show host Dan Le Batard is at odds with the celebration surrounding President Obama's historic visit to Cuba. In a recent piece for The Miami Herald, Le Batard complained about all the "happy coverage" by ESPN in the name of baseball and an American president's return to the communist country in nearly 90 years.
"President Barack Obama, Derek Jeter and ESPN head toward communism like it is another cruise port," Le Batard writes, adding that it's "like watching a funeral morph into a party."
Born of Cuban parents who left the island in exile before he was born, Le Batard said it seems as if all of this commemoration is blatantly ignoring the pain and suffering brought to his family through communism. And though he hasn't been directly affected by Fidel Castro's dictatorship, he reacts passionately when he sees American leadership embracing the very country that robbed his family of so much:
I've never known anything but freedom. My grandparents and parents made sure that was so. Now my grandparents are dead, and my parents are old, and the Cuban regime that strangled them somehow lives on ... lives on to play a baseball game with our country this week. America extends its hand toward a dictator who has the blood of my people on his own hands. And now my parents, old exiles, have to watch Obama and Jeter and ESPN throw a happy party on land that was stolen from my family ... as the rest of America celebrates it, no less. That's going to hurt, no matter how you feel about the politics...
My parents were put on planes as teenagers by their own parents, not knowing if they'd ever see each other again. How desperate would you have to be to send your not-ready-for-the-real-world 16-year-old away to a foreign country without knowing if you'd ever be reunited? A lot of things have happened to Cuba since my parents fled it. Change doesn't appear to be one of them.
The ocean between our countries is filled with the Cuban bodies that tell the story, lives literally thrown to the wind in desperation, hoping to reach America's possibility-soaked shores on boats made of old tires and wood and poverty's debris. No free press. No elections. No freedom. That's the Cuba that still surrounds the baseball diamond where we play this game. That's the Cuba people still get on makeshift boats to flee today.
Le Batard explains that his mother endured Castro's regime tapping their phones, spying on them and entering their homes whenever they wished. She witnessed the deaths of many who fought for differing political ideas and the imprisonment of her brother.
"Whenever she visited him, she wondered if the fresh blood on the firing-squad walls might be his," Le Batard writes. "He spent almost 10 years in that prison for his politics. Why the hell would she trust any of that today?"
His lament continued:
Understand something please: My parents are exiles, not immigrants. It is an enormous difference. They didn't come to this country looking for money. They left money behind and came here to risk poverty. They did so because they were exiled from a land they didn't want to leave and still miss, a land they will not visit until this regime is ousted or they see real change that can be trusted. My grandmother put my mother on a plane believing that they might see each other again in three months. It took 12 years. Grandma put her on a plane because she couldn't stomach the idea of both of her children being in jail at once, her son for his politics, her daughter for trying to go to church to remember the dead. Three militia members with machine guns broke into her house at 3 a.m. looking for my mother days after she had fled. Grandma is dead.
Le Batard lives in Miami and says he's heard many stories like his own family. And with that in mind, he states, "So you'll forgive us if we aren't much in the mood to play ball with a dictator who still has the blood of our people on his hands, no matter how much ESPN and Obama and Jeter dress it up."
"Fidel Castro outlived my grandparents," Le Batard concludes. "His regime continues to haunt my old-exile parents. My pain might be borrowed. But, damn, as that sting returns to my eyes, I can assure you that it is real."
ESPN was called out by Twitchy on Sunday for sending, then later deleting, a tweet all about Castro's love of sports. It read, "Savior and scourge, Fidel Castro was many things to many people. One thing all can agree on: He loved his sports."
But still on its site today, is the video story that was linked in the tweet, which set aside the brutality of Castro's regime to talk about his love for games.
"Tone. Deaf," Twitchy rightly assesses.
Meanwhile, Obama posed for a photo-op during his trip with a large image of Che Guevara hovering behind him. Talk about tone deaf; that truly is a picture worth a thousand words, as TruthRevolt noted earlier.
Here's more from Le Batard who spoke further about his frustrations on his radio program: