Football Hangover

The World Cup on Cuban TV (14ymedio)

The World Cup 2014 on Cuban TV (14ymedio)

Gone is the last game, the German goal, Götze’s hands raising the 2014 Brazil World Cup. Gone are the get togethers with friends, wrapped in the flag of Italy or Costa Rica, to go see the games in some public place. Some of the excitement remains, it’s true, but the roar that ran through Havana when the ball entered the goal in Rio De Janeiro or Sal Paulo is now just a memory. The painted faces, the arms raised in imitation of the spectators from their seats, and the euphoria shared with millions all over the globe. The football party is over, now comes the hangover.

The hangover is a return to real life. Back to the store shelves and a realization that the shortages are greater than they were four weeks ago. Learning that yesterday a hundred Ladies in White were arrested for trying to pay tribute to the victims of the sinking of the 13-de-Marzo tugboat. There is no catchy tune performed by the famous to accompany this hard existence, rather the rumor of friends who warn us of “what’s out there”… “dengue fever, cholera, Chikungunya and even giant African snails.”

Like a kick to the head—and without failing to miss the opponent—reality returns. There are no arms to stop this fast ball that is daily life, unstoppable and painful. We are back to our world without lights, without loudspeakers that roar GOOOOAL, and without that familiarity created by competitive sports. In short, we live in “a world” where the rules are strict, the referee implacable, and there are no prizes.

Monday morning, I already saw them, as if waking from a dream. They were the hundreds of thousands of Cubans, especially young people, who were immersed in the passion of the Cup as if they themselves had kicked the ball. Today they realize they aren’t Germans, Dutch or Argentines and that a difficult Cuba awaits them on the other side of their doors. A Cuba that in four weeks has not stopped in time, waiting for the whistle to resume its course, rather it has deteriorated. Will they be willing to change the rules of the game of this reality? Or will they wait for the next reason to escape in front of the TV or the ball?


104 thoughts on “Football Hangover

  1. THE WASHINGTON POST OPINION: Leopoldo Lopez’s jailing is a symptom of a sick Venezuela – By Lilian Tintori (wife of Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo López, lives in Caracas)

    This year, my husband, Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo López , spent his 43rd birthday behind bars. To mark Leopoldo’s birthday, our children, Manuela, 4 , and Leopoldo, 1, and I tried to bring him a birthday cake at the Ramo Verde military prison. We were turned away. We were forced to celebrate on the street outside the prison, where our family sang “Happy Birthday” to a life-size picture of him.

    For our children, this was a poor substitute for seeing their father. It’s been a month since we last visited Leopoldo, and we miss him each day. In his absence, I am a single mother, a circumstance that has taken a toll on our family.

    The irony is that my husband is not a criminal but rather a devoted father, husband and politician whose “offense” was urging Venezuelans to peacefully exercise their rights to gather, protest and express their views of our government. He sits in jail on charges of public incitement, property damage and criminal conspiracy, which Amnesty International said “smack of a politically motivated attempt to silence dissent.” The government has vowed to keep him in prison for a decade.

    Leopoldo’s trial is scheduled to resume this week, but let no one be fooled. There is no presumption of innocence or due process of law for a political prisoner in Venezuela, whose judicial system the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has repeatedly found to lack independence and impartiality. And in so-called talks, which Leopoldo expected to be fruitless, Maduro rejected all compromises and a call to release all political prisoners.

    We need to send a message to the government that it cannot trample on the rights of its people with impunity. Accordingly, I call on President Maduro to release my husband and the more than 100 political prisoners being held in Venezuela. But my actions alone are not enough. My husband needs the support of all countries that stand for freedom. I urge governments around the world to take meaningful action to press Maduro to free the political prisoners in Venezuela.



    REUTERS: Cuba hopes for more investment as Chinese president arrives – by Marc Frank
    Chinese President Xi Jinping begins a two day visit to Cuba on Monday evening, stirring hopes on the island that China will finally invest in the country after a number of important deals never materialized.

    Communist-run China and Cuba are close political allies. Generous trade credits have made China the island’s largest creditor and second biggest trade partner after Venezuela at $1.4 billion last year.

    China has rescheduled Cuba’s government and commercial debt, believed to top $6 billion. But large investment agreements for the nickel industry, signed in 2000, another in hotels, and a deal to expand an oil refinery agreed five years ago, have not materialized.

    Chinese-made cars, buses, locomotives, ships and household appliances are increasingly prevalent in Cuba. China’s flag flies from leased oil rigs along the northwest coast and a modern container port boasts Chinese equipment, but direct investments are limited to a communications venture established 15 years ago and an onshore oil block in Pinar del Rio province.

    Chinese diplomats and businessmen have told Reuters over the years that they had little confidence in Cuba’s ability to work efficiently with them, complained about the high cost of doing business, and said Cuba has balked at bringing construction crews in from China to build projects.

    Little of the $80 billion China has invested in Latin America and the Caribbean in recent years has been in Cuba. That, along with a review of debt and trade, will top this week’s agenda.


  3. John Bibb:

    Russia is not trying to re-create the old USSR….Russia has been under siege from the West since the fall of the Soviet Union. They do want to allied themselves with Brics, China and others. They would like to become a major loan provider to other countries. They want to be in the top 5 economies in the World.

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