For Venezuelan MLB players in America, there may be a physical distance from the chaos back home, but mentally and emotionally, their troubles are never far away. Faced with kidnapping and death threats, the baseball players can't return home - not even to help their families or provide aide.
If they speak out publicly against Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro, their families are put in danger. Colorado Rockies right fielder Carlos Gonzales, Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli, and Detroit Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera shared their story to The Bleacher Report.
"Venezuelans, we only talk about politics now," the Colorado Rockies right fielder said to The Bleacher Report. "There doesn't go one day that we don't say anything about a political issue. That's it. If you see someone from Venezuela, it's the first thing that comes up."
The Executive Director of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation (VOC), Marion Smith, has been working extensively with Venezuelan dissidents and is in direct contact with many Venezuelans on the ground amid the chaos - including the world-famous violinist Wuilly Arteaga, who was arrested and beaten last week by Maduro's government officials.
Smith told Latin Times that this is the greatest catastrophe in the Western hemisphere. While many believe democracy is on the rise in the West, Venezuela is the clear example that sadly this is not the case.
“During the cold war, at the Olympics or any International sporting event, it was quite a common thing for individuals from a National team, from Hungary, China, Poland, Soviet Union to run away while they were in a western country,” said Smith. “So I think it’s very damaging that the Venezuelan players here in the U.S. are afraid to go back, but that’s the reality. We just ask ourselves why, why is it so bad? Why one of the wealthiest country two decades ago has the highest murder rate and spines are shooting people on the streets.”
The Maduro regime is waging a war against its own citizens, with Cuba’s full-fledged support. The communist parties of Raul Castro and Maduro are conspiring to make Venezuela a single-party state and hold its people captive, by violent and illegal means. “Cuba has made it pretty clear that this is the direction they want Venezuela to go in, and the people that are suffering are the Venezuelan people,” said Smith.
“We are very pleased that Donald Trump has sanctioned Maduro, individually,” said the civil-society leader, and expert in international affairs. Smith also said the U.S. must not allow this tragedy to play out—it’s hostile to U.S. national interest and violently against the values of the American people. “The United States won’t allow the Cuban back, and the changing of Venezuela constitution is the government, without the consent of the people that made very clear that they don’t want that,” he added.
Watch Marion discussing Venezuela jailing opposition leaders here.
The opposition in Venezuela are united and ready to govern. The U.S. cannot stand idly by as Maduro orders the death and torture of all who oppose his regime. Protests against Maduro since April 1 have brought thousands to the streets demanding elections, but has also left more than 100 people dead, according to an official toll.
The opposition in Venezuela is brutally repressed and everyone is asking for peace in the midst of the crisis.