Venezuela is in crisis. It’s a complicated crisis, beyond our scope of discussion here, but it’s one that has a direct impact on baseball by virtue of so many professional baseball players coming from there and having family there.
Venezuela had already long been a dangerous place for ballplayers and their family. Rays catcher Wilson Ramos was famously kidnapped a few years ago and other players have had relatives kidnapped and held for ransom as well. The players are often largely powerless to do anything about while they’re here, thousands of miles away. Many have decided to relocate their families entirely, forcing them to leave the only country they’ve ever called home.
The recent strife, which has led to economic collapse and a nearly wholesale breakdown of order in the country, has exacerbated the situation. And baseball’s most prominent Venezuelan native is speaking out about it.
As Evan Woodbery of MLive.com reports, Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera posted a series of videos to the “stories” section of his Instagram account, blasting the corruption of Venezuela’s government, voicing his support for protesters and speaking of threats against his family that require him to pay protection money:
“If I go to Venezuela ‘they’ll break me, they’ll kill me'”
“I’m tired of paying protection money so they don’t kidnap my mother”
“I protest for truth, for the end of communism, and I am not with dictators . . . To the people of the resistance, you are not alone.”
Cabrera, like most Venezuelan players, has not historically been vocal about politics in his home country. But with economic collapse and lawlessness brought on by a corrupt dictatorship, he is understandably at his breaking point.
Some have noted that Cabrera is having what is, for him anyway, a down year. Most of us think about whether he’s healthy or if, at 34, the years are catching up to him. Rarely do we stop to think, however, how hard it must be for him and other players in his situation to concentrate on a baseball game.
Here’s hoping there is an end to the crisis in Venezuela soon. Here’s hoping that Cabrera and other players with families in harm’s way are able to find peace and safety soon as well.