[News] How Argentina's Maradona Supports Anti-Imperialism Across Latin America

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Thu Jun 7 15:35:30 EDT 2018


https://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/How-Maradona-Supports-Anti-Imperialism-Across-Latin-America-20180606-0018.html 



  How Maradona Supports Anti-Imperialism Across Latin America

6 June 2018
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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.

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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 
understands that.

“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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