Here's a heartwarming story from the World Baseball Classic. At a game in San Juan between Puerto Rico and Cuba, a fan held up a sign that said, "Abajo Fidel"down with Castro. It was visible on the TV feed to Cuba. The response:
The top Cuban official at the game at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan rushed to confront the man.
Puerto Rican police quickly intervened and took the Cuban officialAngel Iglesias, vice president of Cuba's National Institute of Sportsto a nearby police station, where they lectured him about free speech.
"We explained to him that here the constitutional right to free expression exists and that it is not a crime," police Col. Adalberto Mercado was quoted as saying in El Nuevo Dia, a San Juan daily.
Hurray for Colonel Mercado. Sometimes we mainland Americans tend to forget that Puerto Ricans are our fellow citizens and that they have made significant positive contributions to our country. Most of us are not aware that respect for civil liberties and freedom of expression is deeply ingrained in Puerto Rico. Colonel Mercado reminds us of those truths. We're luck to have him as a fellow citizen.
I'm not sure we can say that same of the spokesman for Major League Baseball. Here's what the story says about him:
"The Cubans were upset with the incident that happened last night, and they want to make sure it doesn't happen again," said John Blundell, spokesman of Major League Baseball, which helped establish the tournament. "We are doing everything that we can to ensure the safety of fans and the delegations."
Just what the heck does that mean? Is MLB undertaking to guarantee that anti-Castro signs held up by fans will not be displayed or broadcast at World Baseball Classic games? Perhaps MLB has had more to say on this. It would be nice to know that MLB supported freedom of speech as strongly and unambiguously as Colonel Mercado and the Puerto Rican police.