Usually when a baseball player takes to Instagram stories — the 24-hour video and photo clips that disappear daily — it’s to show off their vacations or fun behind-the-scenes clips of ballpark life. On Monday, Detroit Tigers’ first baseman Miguel Cabrera’s videos clips made international headlines.
“They’ll break me. They’ll kill me,” he said, of returning home to Venezuela.
He was speaking to the volatile political climate in the country, where government corruption runs rampant and to vocally support protesters can put someone’s life in danger. Cabrera has spoken in the past about the situation in Venezuela, but on Monday he was the most candid he’d ever been.
In Spanish, he said, “I’m tired of paying protection money so they don’t kidnap my mother.”
In between these videos were clips of his family on vacation, juxtaposing the stark economic and political realities of Venezuela with the every day life of a megamillionaire baseball superstar. Money, however, does not make Cabrera immune to fear and frustration. He sees what is happening in his home nation, he still has family there. His money puts him in a position to protect those he loves, but it doesn’t mean he does not feel rage about the fear and danger his loved ones remain in day to day.
During the 2016 offseason he went home for a week but didn’t stay long, feeling unsafe in the country of his birth. Ahead of spring training he told MLive columnist David Mayo, “When I'm back in Venezuela, I went for one week. I used to live there. Now I live here, in the United States. It's hard to leave your country. It's hard to leave your family over there. My whole family's in Venezuela. I worry about them. They worry too. They say, 'Let's keep fighting,' you know?”
With Venezuela’s political future currently on the razor’s edge, where President Nicholas Maduro plans to hold a referendum that could see democracy come to an end in the country, it takes courage for Cabrera to speak so openly, especially in support of the protesters.
He went on to say, “I protest for truth, for the end of communism, and I am not with dictators. To the people of the resistance, you are not alone.”
Ultimately, Cabrera is not a politician or an opposition leader, but rather a man who loves his home, and the people who live there. When he pleads, “Please do not do anything to my family,” he is not being hyperbolic. Death threats, assassinations, and violence loom large and real in the periphery of every day life for Venezuelans, especially those willing to speak out against the dictatorship.
See below for the complete clips from Cabrera’s Instagram stories, in Spanish.