Multiple videos shared online showed protesters running onto the field during the World Baseball Classic semifinal matchup between Cuba and the United States at LoanDepot Park in Miami on Sunday (March 19) as demonstrations against their native country's association with late Cuban leader Fidel Castro.
A video shared by Twitter user @JoshLap19 showed a man holding a Cuban flag get tackled by security, which he claimed was "the fourth person of the night to run on the field in protest of the Cuban government." Another video shared by @14ymedio shows Cuban graffiti artist Danilo Maldonado Machado on the field holding a poster that reads "Freedom for the Cuban prisoners of July 11," according to a translated version of the tweet.
A third video shared by journalist Jorge Figueroa Loza showed a protester running onto the field during the sixth inning.
Numerous Cuban natives who fled to the United States, specifically Miami's Little Havana neighborhood, during Castro's reign protested outside the stadium ahead of the game, which served as the Cuban national team's first appearance in Miami, the Associated Press reported. Jose Vilela, 68, was among the protesters who yelled at anyone associated with Castro to leave the community, which included several players who are considered to be government employees.
“We don’t want them here,” Vilela said via the AP. “None. People that work for the Castro family. We don’t want them. They can go any place they want. Go to New York. Go to California. Not Miami. I hope this is the last time they come here.”
Fan reactions were mixed as some yelled, “¡Libertad!" while "USA" chants were common throughout the Americans' 14-2 win.
“We’re just here for baseball, for the sport,” said Cuba manager Armando Johnson said after the game, claiming the team didn't pay attention to the demonstrators via the AP. “That’s what I do ... I’m not a police officer.”