Aliet Arzola Lima

Aliet Arzola Lima


Firefighters in Matanzas

Story of a firefighter’s father

Fabián’s father has raw blisters on his hands. He has spent hours cutting grass nonstop in the yard in front of his house, but he cannot distinguish whether large drops of sweat are running down his face from work or tears from the death of his son, one of the 16 people who lost their lives in the fire of the Supertanker Base.

Cuban boxer Julio César La Cruz (left) celebrates his victory in the 81 kg finals at the Lima 2019 Pan American Games. Photo: Martín Alipaz / EFE.

What’s left of Lima: halfway

The United States is going full speed ahead, Mexico is a strong candidate to enter the Top-4, and Brazil and Canada are vying for the second place at the Lima 2019 Pan American Games, in which Cuba, despite the overwhelming pace in boxing, is a step below the advanced group and with the feeling that it will not meet any of its goals. Perhaps from within the delegation they still cling to the possibility of retaining the fourth place of Toronto 2015, or equaling Canada’s 36 gold medals, but the island’s fans, who suffer and enjoy the Games from a distance, hardly believe it’s possible. One might think it’s a pessimistic vision, but in reality we are facing an indisputable reality when coming face to face with the numbers. Halfway, Cuba has a considerable deficit of titles compared to Toronto, taking into account only finished sports. In Canada, 13 gold medals were won between artistic gymnastics, taekwondo, weightlifting and canoeing, disciplines that now contributed two golds. The negative difference is 11. Somehow, boxing has stood up for the country with its eight gold medals, and shooting, which is not yet over, has also contributed more than expected. In the particular...

Erisbel Arruebarruena in the Victoria de Girón Stadium. Photo: Aliet Arzola Lima.

Arruebarruena: “Being here is a motivation”

Bárbaro Erisbel Arruebarruena Escalante (Abreus, 1990) wears a Los Angeles Dodgers cap with the logo of the Arizona Cactus League, where he once fought, without much luck, to ascend to Chavez Ravine Hill. Two huge gold chains hang from his neck; there are no traces of the extravagant necklaces he used in the past. In the spikes, red and blue, you can see the number 1 and the Cuban flag. One of Arruebarruena's gloves has golden trimmings, although the most striking is the intense blue that contrasts with the red that dominates the Victoria de Girón Stadium, in Matanzas. Arruebarruena in the Matanzas training sessions. Photo: John Vila Acosta / ACN. At first glance, the splendid whole and the figure of Arruebarruena itself don’t fit in the old Cuban baseball field, lacking in splendor and colors, but that, clearly, doesn’t matter to him. "I'm neither the one who left for the United States nor the one who played in the Major Leagues, I'm one more Cuban," says the shortstop from Cienfuegos, who lets us see that there is no reason to draw a dividing line with the repatriates: they are like any other Cuban. *** It’s at noon and Arruebarruena...

Alfredo Ríos working with his Strike Zone program. Photo: Taken from Juventud Rebelde

Alfredo Ríos, the Cuba team’s sabermetrician

Alfredo Ríos is 27 years old, and he is the youngest member of the technical staff of the national baseball preselection, which these days is dividing its work between a training base in Mexican heights and continued training on the Island. Ríos, an engineering graduate from the University of Computer Science, was the last on the preselection and his inclusion attracted attention, to a great extent because many did not even know him, and because of the label of sabermetrician that accompanied his name, never before used in national teams. "A sabermetrician had never been officially named, it is an important step," Ríos proudly recognizes in an exclusive interview with OnCuba. A member of the Cuban Sports Research Center (one of the National Institute of Sports, Physical Education and Recreation’s laboratories focused on the study of opponents, statistical analysis, etc.), Alfredo has been linked to baseball for years, collaborating with players and coaches, but had not had the opportunity to offer his information at the foot of the diamond. Did you find it surprising that the post of sabermetrician was made official in the preselection? A little, but I think that this call is the continuity of the work that...