[News] How Argentina's Maradona Supports Anti-Imperialism Across Latin America
news at freedomarchives.org
Thu Jun 7 15:35:30 EDT 2018
How Maradona Supports Anti-Imperialism Across Latin America
6 June 2018
Over the years Argentine soccer legend Diego Armando Maradona, who will
be hosting a special program for teleSUR during the World Cup in
Russia, has proven to be a strong supporter of the Latin American
governments that stand against imperialism and fight for more equal,
just societies in the region and abroad.
*US Denies Maradona Visa After Trump Comments
He has the famous portrait of Ernesto “Che” Guevara, his revolutionary
compatriot, tattooed on one of his arms, and the face of the Cuban
revolutionary Fidel Castro on one of his legs. His love for Cuba was
forged through years of visiting the island and speaking with Fidel
Castro, making him a fierce critic of neoliberal policies in the
continent he holds dear.
Even though his political stances have earned him critics, he remains
firm on his ideals, as Fidel once told him: “ideas are not negotiated.”
Diego Armando Maradona first visited Cuba in 1987, just a year after the
Argentine team won its last world cup in Mexico. Since then, he
established a strong friendship with commander in chief Fidel Castro,
whom he deeply admired, and traveled frequently to the island.
Maradona would become a strong defender of Cuba and its policies,
fascinated by the strong social convictions of Fidel and the revolution.
In 2000, Fidel invited the soccer superstar to La Pedrera clinic as he
was struggling with drug addiction and needed rehabilitation. Five years
later, Maradona was in much better shape and interviewed the commander
on his TV Show. The interview was conducted in the Cuban Presidential
Palace and it lasted, it's said, five hours.
News of Fidel's death reached Maradona in Croatia while he was
supporting an Argentine team. He traveled to the island after the cup
and paid his respects to the commander. “He was like a father to me...
He opened the doors to Cuba to me when Argentina was closing them on
me,” said Maradona at that time.
“When they told me last night, I cried like hell... today he's leaving
but he will keep guiding us like Che, like Chavez. Someone who can guide
us from heaven is arriving to heaven.”
It was the same fight for social justice that Maradona saw in Cuba that
attracted him to another Caribbean country.
Maradona was fascinated by Venezuela's Bolivarian revolution and visited
the country several times, also meeting Evo Morales and Lula da Silva
there. Even though his friendship with Hugo Chavez is not as well
documented as that with Fidel, he was a great admirer of the commander
and his project.
Once in 2010, Chavez surprised Maradona and joined him during a press
conference. “One day we will defeat Argentina and Brazil,” said Chavez,
remembering the worst times of Venezuelan soccer, when teams wanted a
match against the Caribbean country in order to get an easy victory.
When the commander died, Maradona visited his tomb along with President
Nicolas Maduro, with whom he would later establish a friendship and go
on to support unconditionally.
“What Hugo left me was a great friendship, an incredible political
wisdom. Hugo Chavez changed the way Latin America thinks. We were bowed
to the United States and he showed us that we can walk by ourselves,”
said Maradona after Chavez's death.
Maradona continued his support for the Bolivarian revolution through his
support of President Maduro, whom he has accompanied in difficult moments.
“Don't give up. In soccer it doesn't matter if you lose three to zero,
never give up. You never gave up and you're giving everything for
Venezuelans. Long live Maduro!” he told the president, “we're soldiers
of Nicolas, I came here to give him my support.”
Maradona has visited Maduro multiple times and supported him in campaign
events. His strong political stance, support of socialism and Latin
American sovereignty, has earned him critics from the right every time.
Like Che, Maradona doesn't focus only on his country's politics and
extends his solidarity beyond borders. He has been a long way and
“In the name of all Argentines that love Fidel and Che, I ask you for
forgiveness because we have a president that knows absolutely nothing
... I'm a Cuban soldier, I'm available for whatever Cuba needs instead
of being Macri's soldier, which I will never be. I would give my whole
body for this flag,” he said, echoing Che.
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