Paul  Kengor

Not heralded by Castro, however, was the plight of his players. The entire payroll for the Cuban national team was $2,400—yes, for the entire team. Each man on the roster of 20 players was paid a paltry $120 per year, just like everyone else in Cuba, from doctors to teachers to maintenance workers. That’s called equal distribution of wealth. By comparison, the Orioles payroll for that year was $80 million, with players like Albert Belle and Cal Ripken enjoying huge long-term contracts.

Alas, no one in Cuba has a payroll quite like Fidel Castro. At the time, Forbes magazine published its annual list of the world’s wealthiest leaders. Placing eighth was Castro at $110 million—a conservative estimate that doesn’t begin to account for the billions of dollars in land, industry, and resources he has personally confiscated.

“We fight not to create millionaires!” proclaimed Fidel. Well, that’s not quite true. Cuba has its share of filthy rich; they are the “one percent” of Communist Party cronies and apparatchiks, from Fidel’s brother Raul (Cuba’s current leader) to other corrupt mansion Marxists. They are typical of any communist regime.

Of course, Cubans painfully realize their horrible situation. Testimony to that was the reaction of the Cuban national team immediately after they defeated the Baltimore Orioles. Rigoberto Herrera Betancourt defected. And while a bragging Fidel chomped on a hundred-dollar cigar, six other members of the Cuban delegation “overslept” and missed the airplane home. All did this at great personal risk to themselves and the families they left behind. They don’t love Castro.

Ozzie Guillen, however, expressed a markedly different sentiment. Needless to say, if Guillen lived in Cuba, he would never have gotten the opportunities he has in America. He’d be poor or in prison.

Guillen is now in hot water in Florida, dealing with a five-game suspension because of his comments. Fans are still furious.

Well, if it gets worse, maybe he could consider managing the Cuban national team. I hear they’re paying $120 a year.