Former players for a Cuban baseball team were scheduled to have a special reunion game at FIU's baseball stadium on August 10th and 11th. But, the game was abruptly canceled.
An anti-Castro group calling themselves "Vigilia Mambisa" claimed responsibility for the cancellation, saying that they had "won a fight against Castro supporters," and had FIU officials cancel the games.
But Fort Lauderdale has stepped up, and will allow the game to be played on Saturday at Fort Lauderdale Stadium instead.
According to a press release from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the ballplayers are set to play a double-header featuring former players currently living in Cuba and those who had played in Cuba but left their oppressed island nation for the U.S.
In what is supposed to be the 50th anniversary of Havana's baseball team "Los Industriales," the games are intended to be a symbolic reunion for the players whose lives and, in some cases, careers, have been affected by the Castro regime. It's intended to be a spring board for possible future games and reunions.
But, the ACLU says, this recent cancellation by FIU is just another incident in which "government entities in Miami-Dade County have used their power to attempt to ban from Miami Cuban musicians, artists, and performers."
The ACLU cites examples such as art displays, Cuban music performances, and even children's books, that have been attacked by these groups if there is even the slightest hint of a pro-Castro stance in the art or performance.
"Whether it is with artists, musicians, children's books or now baseball players, leaders in Miami-Dade have been making the same mistake over and over again," stated Howard Simon, Executive Director of the ACLU of Florida. "You do not grow freedom in Havana by making war on the First Amendment in Miami. The response to expression you disagree with isn't to use government to crush the rights of others, but to use your own right speak out. The ACLU supports the right of the protesters who will almost certainly be at Fort Lauderdale stadium to peaceably demonstrate. That's the freedom which so many people - including many of those participating in Saturday's game - have come to America to enjoy."
Since FIU is a state university, the First Amendment prohibits the university from cutting off expression just to avoid protest.
So, the ACLU is investigating the circumstances under which the games scheduled at FIU's stadium were cancelled.
So far, the ACLU has submitted two public records request to FIU for information about the cancelled contract.
"It's unfortunate that something as simple as a baseball game is too controversial for Miami," said Simon. "But is perfectly acceptable across the county line. The idea that government entities can ban an event because they perceive it to politically unpopular is exactly the kind of government oppression from which people crossing the Florida straits have fled."
Saturday's Cuban baseball event at Fort Lauderdale Stadium will begin at 11 a.m.