By Fidel Diaz Castro
I don’t think there is another joke stronger made by a head of State to another.
It is true that in this case was that made by a father to a son playing, and a game it was.
On 18 January 1999 Latin American Stadium, Fidel and Chavez had agreed to produce a game of baseball veterans between Cuba and Venezuela.
I recall that there were more than 45,000 people that night with Latin zeppo, and I had to sit right in the garden, almost at the end of the field. Fortunately wore binoculars, though, however, the home I was at least 500 feet.
Fidel directed Cuba’s side and Chávez was the pitcher of Venezuela.
After they occupied the land and the initial applause, the crowd began his comments and all we were trying to identify our glories of baseball, but there it was … Obviously someone had the belly, others were bearded, but oddly unrecognizable. The murmur grew in front of amazement: how was it possible that all those passionate fans unable to identify their idols?
Soon he saw played little credible, with hints and little movements ‘ suitable ‘ to those veterans, with those fat bellies, who struck the ball very easily and gave him blows like peloteros fully fit.
The suspects began, the laughter in the audience. Someone believed to recognize national team players. Many people did not believe a similar theatrical installation! I think it was when Chavez imposed a shot that reached the first baseman Orestes Kindelán acknowledged.
Many did not understand what was happening: Chávez facetious gestures, laughing, protested, he signals to the referees …
Some were beginning to understand, but it was difficult to accept the idea that Fidel had cocked that show! But yes! He had secretly met the stars of our baseball-pelota-and had sought professional make-up artists to ‘ characterize ‘ Pacheco, Kindelán, Germán … with bellies, beards and also posticce wrinkles and had them presented as ‘ veterans ‘.
I don’t remember how the game ended. Cuba has won clearly and definitely some Venezuelan-their cause were glories withdrawn – won’t have appreciated the joke too.
Hugo Chávez, with his spirit by great comrade-laughed in his statements, while saying that Fidel had set a trap, because he doesn’t like to lose … then there was a game seriously, but that fact remained a joke between close friends, an extreme gesture of confidence in each other and, of course, also between the two peoples.
A completely unprecedented in history, at least with that size, with a stadium packed full and live broadcast for television.
That joke will be tighter embrace of these two men, with a great sense of humor and a friendship without borders.
The 18 January there has been 14 years since that memorable game and from that colossal joke, those hours great fun when played as adversaries, Cubans and Venezuelans.
Chavez is now convalescing after his delicate operation and Fidel visit constantly, looking down the re-establishment of those in the League of Latin American history, the fourth pitcher of his own team.
This article first appeared in Granma and the original can be viewed here.