Record-setting Dominican attendance at the championship game of the 1969 Amateur Baseball World Series attested to the local and international stakes in the competition between the United States and Cuba. Both teams reached the final game of the round-robin tournament, having defeated all nine of the opposing teams representing nations and government systems as varied as Nicaragua’s rightest dictatorship, the Dutch Antilles’ constitutional commonwealth, and Venezuela’s guerrilla-threatened democracy. Dominican sportswriters described the game as a competition between two opposing government systems and two conflicting sporting systems: the decentralized, largely privatized U.S. system that used amateur ball as a stepping stone to professionalism and the Cuban system that developed state amateurs who educated themselves, worked, and played ball in the service of the nation. The meeting between the U.S. and Cuban teams in the Dominican Republic suggested that the systems might coexist at a time when the Dominican government headed by President Joaquín Balaguer began to experiment with new models for political and economic development. Balaguer used the domestic openness and conciliatory attitude toward Cuba to legitimate controversial economic policies and submerge political discontent through national projects around international events like the Amateur World Series in 1969 and the XII Central American and Caribbean Games in 1974. With the international stage provided by the sporting events, Balaguer offered his Third Way as a model for Latin America. This local pluralism, though brief and perhaps disingenuous, allowed Balaguer to project himself and the Dominican Republic as leaders in a movement for Latin America solidarity built on pluralism and respect for sovereignty.
Anita Casavantes Bradford
This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Latin American History. Please check back later for the full article.
Between the autumn of 1960 and October 1962, more than 14,000 unaccompanied Cuban children were sent to the United States by their parents, where a young Irish immigrant priest, Father Bryan O. Walsh, arranged for them to be cared for by U.S. foster homes and in Catholic children’s homes and orphanages. The exodus of Cuban children would later become known as Operation Pedro Pan; the federally funded and Catholic Church administered program that was established to care for them would be called the Cuban Children’s Program. Their interconnected histories were central to the development of post-revolutionary Cuba and the Miami Cuban exile community, and they shed important light on U.S.-Cuba and U.S.-Latin America relations during the height of the Cold War.