Sports may be the nearest thing in Cuba to a national religion. Fidel Castro names sports as a Right of the People, but you won’t see a logo-ridden baseball cap or shirt on anyone in the street. Big money never enters the equation, so athletes compete for sheer love of the game.
Excellence in sports has been a pillar of Fidel Castro’s regime since the revolution, and it’s perhaps the only remaining element with its old vitality. Cuba consistently produces outstanding baseball players, boxers, and track-stars who have become poster-children for Castro’s brand of communism.
But in Cuba’s climate of withering poverty, where even brain surgeons rely on tourist dollars from second jobs, the lure of capitalist-driven sports is strong. In the last decade more than 100 world-class athletes have defected from Cuba and been erased forever from the country’s official memory.
(Hosted by Christopher Lydon)