By CAPosts 25 November, 2020 - 09:34pm 550 views
Maradona with Fidel Castro, in Havana, in 2013. Alex Castro / A
P He had Che Guevara tattooed on his right forearm and, in order not to leave him alone, he made another one of his friend Fidel Castro , with signature and all, on his calf left, with which he scored goals, after receiving treatment in Cuba for his drug addiction. For Maradona , Fidel was a god, someone untouchable, he considered him his "second father", his "friend of the soul" and his "source of inspiration". "Fidel, if I have learned something with you over the years of sincere and beautiful friendship, it is that loyalty is priceless, that a friend is worth more than all the gold in the world, and that ideas are not negotiated," he wrote in 2015 in his last letter, when the Cuban leader was already retired from political life and very ill. By carom of life, Castro and Pelusa died on the same day, November 25, but four years apart , probably both of them would have liked this coincidence.
They met in Cuba at Christmas 1994, when Diego had finished his career in the major football leagues and was serving a doping sanction imposed by FIFA during the World Cup held that same year in the United States. They both saw the enemy's hand in it. On that trip to Havana, Castro received Maradona at the Palace of the Revolution and spent hours talking with him about the divine and the human. At the end of the match, the soccer player gave him his Argentine national team shirt and was reciprocated with the commander's olive green cap.
Eight years earlier, Maradona had been in the Varadero pioneer camp and had declared himself an unconditional admirer of the Cuban revolution . Perhaps because of all this and because of the friendship sealed, it was the Cuban president in person who entrusted the then director of the Havana Psychiatric Hospital, Bernabé Ordaz, to propose to Maradona that he travel to the island to rehabilitate after hitting bottom with cocaine. Maradona arrived in Havana in January 2000 in a sorry state, and just two days after settling in at the La Pradera health center, he received a visit from Castro. "Commander, this is very easy to get in and very difficult to get out," said the ten to his friend, according to what the Argentine's personal doctor, Alfredo Cahe, told EL PAÍS at the time, after ensuring that that 20-minute meeting had had “therapeutic” effects.
“If I have visits like the one I had from Fidel , I think my heart will hold and that there will be Diego for a while,” Maradona explained. The Argentine star was admitted to a specialized center in Havana, but his rehabilitation process was complex, angular and peculiar, not without potholes. One day, shortly after starting treatment, he received a visit from his country's ambassador who brought him a bottle of wine as a gift, under the murderous gaze of the medical team. "But hey, if a little wine is nothing," protested the diplomat before the concoction was seized. When he was much better and received his first pass, a fellow fan crossed him on the street and yelled at him from a car: "Don't listen to anyone, Maradona , you are God!"
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“And give it”, a renowned Cuban psychologist sighed then angrily. “As long as the circus continues to run and he has to sign autographs, and his environment encourages him, and people tell him that he is God and he believes it, it is all complicated. The main thing for him to be saved is to unravel Maradona ”, assured the professional, always insisting on the“ problem of the environment ”. This nearby claque, which included friends and representatives, was credited with the responsibility of feeding his ego and taking care to grant him whims and even supplies when the boy became intractable.
One day he had a car accident during an outing. and luckily nothing happened. Another was about to attack a Reuters journalist who was chasing him - everyone was chasing him - but in the end things subsided. One morning he woke up with a twisted bun and dyed his hair red, went shopping in Havana, held a birthday party for his wife, Claudia Villafañe, posed for journalists, had Cuban girlfriends, gave interviews to stations almost daily. Argentine radio and media.
Although, without a doubt, the problem and the responsibility were his alone, he always had the focus of journalists behind him, something not highly recommended in cases where the best recipe is tranquility. "With this pressure no patient can be cured and no doctor can work," one of the doctors involved in his treatment said then.
Some journalists, disgusted, withdrew. Most do not. In the end, months after arriving, before leaving Cuba in good health, Maradona agreed to play a game with his friends against the foreign journalists who had besieged him. It was a kind of mutual redress. Diego Armando Maradona scored two goals, gave golden passes to his fellow players, made several Chileans and, in short, officiated a real carnage. The result was 6-0. Who writes, who played defense, only proposed one thing in the whole match: to make a memorable foul on 10. Impossible. He ran like a deer and celebrated each goal as if he were playing a final. Or rather, as if he were a child, which is what he was deep down.
The subsequent story is known. When he presented his program La Noche del 10 on Argentine television , Fidel Castro was one of his star guests. I used to keep in touch with him, sometimes by letter. A year before he died, another November 25, Castro wrote to him: “I am a politician, but as a child, adolescent and young person, I was an athlete and I dedicated most of my free time to this noble practice. I admire your behavior for different reasons: I had the privilege of meeting you when the Latin Americans triumphed. You have overcome the most difficult tests as an athlete and young man of humble origin ”. Today the Cuban press dismisses him almost as if he were a revolutionary hero, and both Raúl Castro and President Miguel Díaz-Canel sent their condolences to the family and to the Argentine president, Alberto Fernández, and highlight the friendship of Fidel and Pelusa. For both of them, scoring a goal against imperialism was the maximum.