‘Big Insult to Cubans’: Protestors Criticize Cuba Team Coming to Miami for World Baseball Classic

Cuban exiles gathered at the famous Versailles restaurant in Little Havana on Saturday to protest against Cuba’s baseball team which is currently in Miami for the World Baseball Classic.

As USA and Venezuela face off in loanDepot Park Saturday evening, the winner of that game will go on to face Cuba Sunday.

While some Cuban-Americans will be watching the game inside loanDepot Park, others say they’ll be outside protesting against what they call an oppressive Cuban governmental regime.

“We don’t want them here,” said one Cuban protestor. “Get the hell out of here, because you are insulting the real Cuba!”

Demonstrators gathered with a clear message. They are taking issue with the presence of Cuba’s baseball team in South Florida for the World Baseball Classic.

“The repressors and these people that are coming to play baseball, disguised as repressors, disguised as baseball players, representing the worst dictatorship in this hemisphere for 64 years, are coming here to play baseball,” said the same protestor. “That’s a big insult to Cubans.”

Cuba beat Australia and Japan Wednesday to qualify for the semi-finals, earning the trip to Miami, which is home to more than a million Cuban exiles.

Demonstrators say the Cuba team is a propaganda tool for an oppressive dictatorship.

Social media accounts linked to the Cuban government are using the hashtag #TeamAsere, a term for a friend or buddy.

Protesters say it’s a distraction as the Cuban government refuses to release thousands of political prisoners, despite pressure to do so from the Vatican and the Biden administration.

“Knowing that there’s a lot of political prisoners and that people in there getting depressed, it’s unfair,” said another protestor. “It’s unfair for them to play here in the United States.”

Local politicians are also speaking out.

Hialeah Mayor Esteban Bovo issued a statement reading in part, “I strongly suggest that the Marlins not turn their backs on the Cuban exile community at this time. We cannot tolerate agents of the regime enjoying the freedoms of this country while the Cuban people are in dire need and being subjected to the abuse and repression of the cowards of the regime. #PatriaYVida”

NBC 6 has reached out to a Miami Marlins spokesperson for a comment on what the mayor said but has yet to receive a response.

Demonstrations are planned for Sunday’s game as well, and the Miami Police Department says there will be enhanced security on hand for that game.