Tuesday, February 27, 2024

The best Cuban chess players from exile cannot participate

The Cuban Chess Federation reported this Wednesday that it will allow immigrant Cuban chess players to play in the next national championship, which will be held in February 2024 in Holguín and Pinar del Río. The conditions, however, are draconian: applicants must maintain their relationship with that sporting entity; they cannot be affiliated with any foreign federation; and, as an “essential requirement,” they must maintain their “respectful institutional behavior.”

The measure leaves out the most famous artists who have been on the island in recent decades and who now live outside of it. This is the case of grandmaster Leinier Domínguez, currently number 13 among the best players in the world and the most famous Cuban chess player after José Raúl Capablanca, world champion from 1921 to 1927, who left the country to settle in the United States in 2017.

Domínguez is not only a valuable asset to the US Federation, but he has not hidden his critical stance on the Cuban government on several occasions. In retaliation, the official press systematically made him invisible and did not give him the slightest mention after his outstanding results in the last Chess World Cup, held in Azerbaijan.

Lázaro Bruzón, a resident of the US, could not participate, after the protests on July 11, 2021, said that it was difficult for him to “maintain a reasonable standard in the face of so much injustice”

Grandmaster Lázaro Bruzón, a resident of the United States, also could not participate, and after the protests on July 11, 2021 (11J), he said that it was difficult for him to “maintain a reasonable standard in the face of so much injustice.” “I don’t know those people (the protestors), but I know that no one should be jailed or deported for thinking differently… Too many crimes don’t last forever,” he said.

Founded in Spain and participating in the 11J protests, the grandmaster Arián González also failed to meet the requirement to maintain “respectful behavior” towards the ruling party. His solitary demonstration in Camajuan, Villa Clara, and the brutality with which the Cuban police treated him deserve recognition from the world champion. Garry Kasparov asked the Spanish Government not to remain “silent” in the “new campaign of repression in Cuba.”

Thalía Cervantes, who took advantage of a tournament in Mexico with her family to cross the border to the United States, cannot play in women’s tournaments. The young woman from Havana, who is currently playing in the American Federation, is possibly the best active Cuban chess player.

Other grandmasters, such as Yunieski Quesada, who plays for the United States, are not classified in the new regulations of the Island Federation, but his brother Yasser, who remains on the list of Island players,

This is not the first time that the Cuban Chess Federation has not given up on players who criticize the regime or the institution itself.

This is not the first time that the Cuban Chess Federation has not given up on players who criticize the regime or the institution itself. In 2020, grandmaster Roberto García Pantoja asked to be released from the organization after its president, Carlos Rivero—the same official who announced the new measures on Wednesday—accused him of undermining the federation. The regulation, he said then, prohibits “taking any action, verbal or written statement that is considered offensive or means bad” for the Cuban authorities.

García Pantoja criticized the delays in paying a foreign currency stimulus owed to the authorities for his status as a chess player, while the organization said that the young man had committed “indiscipline,” justifying the withdrawal of money.

As a gesture of support for García Pantoja, grandmaster Yusnel Bacallao withdrew from the World Olympics in chess. “He did it in solidarity with me,” García Pantoja himself said before 14 intervened.

In his announcement, the president of the island’s federation explained other details about the national competition, which will operate in 10 rounds of 24 players using the Swiss system. The eight participants from the national preselections and the champions of the youth category are already guaranteed their place. At the end of the year, qualifying tournaments will be held across the country to select the remaining candidates. However, he did not clarify how the potential expatriate participants would be selected.

The team at 14 Intervene is committed to doing serious journalism that shows the truth deep in Cuba. Thank you for coming with us on this long road. We invite you to continue to support us, but this time by becoming a member of our journal. Together, we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.

World Nation News Desk
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