President Obama went to the baseball in Havana, Cuba. It was all part of his mission to say hey, the U.S. and Cuba have plenty in common now the trade embargo has lifted. The Pres even participated in a Mexican wave alongside his Cuban counterpart.
President Obama & Cuban President Raúl Castro do the wave at Latinoamericano Stadium in Havana during today's game. pic.twitter.com/zYNbMV29V8— FOX Sports (@FOXSports) March 22, 2016
Despite the carnival atmosphere at the baseball, life in Cuba is tough. Years of communist rule have crippled the economy. The GDP per capita (a measure of average income per person) is around $7,000 to $10,000 in Cuba compared to $50,000 to $55,000 in the USA, according to multiple sources.
Sports broadcaster ESPN appeared to be alluding to these sorts of issues in this tweet which emphasised the shabbiness of the typical Havana dwelling.
Meanwhile, next to the stadium in Havana... pic.twitter.com/4nHUzVNO5e— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) March 22, 2016
The tweet followed an opinion piece that ran concurrently on ESPN and the Miami Herald by a Miami-based journalist of Cuban heritage, Dan le Batard. Here's part of that highly emotive op-ed.
"I've never known anything but freedom. My grandparents and parents made sure that was so. Now my grandparents are dead, and my parents are old, and the Cuban regime that strangled them somehow lives on ... lives on to play a baseball game with our country this week.
"America extends its hand toward a dictator who has the blood of my people on his own hands. And now my parents, old exiles, have to watch Obama and Jeter and ESPN throw a happy party on land that was stolen from my family -- as the rest of America celebrates it, no less."
A recurring message in ESPN's Cuba coverage this week has clearly been that despite the reopening of trade and diplomatic doors, the regime in Cuba is still rooted to its questionable past, and Cuban citizens no better off.
The Twitterati may or may not have grasped that message. But what they saw clearly was that the back blocks of America's sporting stadiums ain't so pretty either.
The above Tweet depicts the neighbourhood known as Willets Point behind the stadium which is home to baseball's NY Mets, in New York City's Queens borough. Willets Point is earmarked for a billion dollar redevelopment. But right now, as the editor of Sports website Deadspin pointed out, it lacks even the most basic amenities.
Willets Point literally does not have have sidewalks or sewers. pic.twitter.com/g4K4AV3ZhC— Barry Petchesky (@barryap1) March 22, 2016
Then the silly memes started appearing, as they always do.
You get the point. People in glass houses, and all that.