Football legend and man of excess, Diego Maradona was also a man of commitment. During his life, he displayed himself with constancy alongside Fidel Castro, Hugo CHavez, Nicolas Maduro, Evo Morales … exposing his anti-American opinions.
Live: national mourning in Argentina for the disappearance of icon Diego Maradona
Life and death are sometimes a coincidence. Diego Maradona left on Wednesday 25 November, four years to the day after the death of Fidel Castro. He considered the former leader of Cuba as a “second father”, he saw him as a “Che of the sport”. Throughout his career, whether through his support for Venezuelan Hugo Chavez, Argentine Nestor Kirchner or even for his anti-American positions, Diego Maradona has never hidden his political commitment to the left, most often. with shock formulas, which clashes in the often very smooth world of football.
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It must be said that “El Pibe de Oro”, the golden kid of the Buenos Aires slums, has never forgotten his roots or hidden his ideals. Light years away from his rival as the greatest player in history, the Brazilian Pelé, who was a minister in his country and considered close to institutions, including Fifa.
In 1987, a year after “the Hand of God” and its world coronation, Maradona visited Fidel Castro for the first time in Cuba. When he touched death in 2000 and 2004, suffering from cocaine addiction and obesity since the end of his career in 1997, it was on the island that he went to seek treatment. In 2005, having become a successful TV host, he interviews Castro in Havana on his show “La noche del Diez”.
Their relationship is also epistolary, and it is through a letter to Maradona that the former Cuban head of state reassures him about his state of health, in 2015. A year later, when Castro’s death was announced, Maradona will mourn the loss of a “second father” and cry: “I feel Cuban”.
A link he has even in the skin: on the left calf, the former Argentine coach is tattooed with the effigy of Castro. Another figure of the Cuban revolution, the Argentinian Che Guevara accompanies him on the right shoulder.
“History wanted them to leave on the same day,” Cuba’s foreign ministry said in tribute.
Rejection of US imperialism
In 2005, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez called the former football player to the podium at the Summit of the Americas in Mar del Plata. US President George W. Bush is then present to defend a project for a continental free trade area. Diego Maradona then calls on the crowd to “fire” Bush from Argentina. Ovation assured.
It must be said that Maradona had prepared the ground, asking to “reject this human scum that is Bush”, in the train that took him to Mar del Plata alongside 150 personalities, including the future Bolivian president Evo Morales and the director Emir Kusturica, who will make a documentary about it.
To protest US imperialism, Diego Maradona wore a shirt reading “Stop Bush” with the S as a Nazi Swastika, when he attended the Summit of the Americas in Argentina in 2005.
President George W. Bush was attending, trying to push through a “free trade zone” to exploit Latin America pic.twitter.com/Zi1cQKvn6i
– Ben Norton (@BenjaminNorton) November 25, 2020
As an echo, in 2019, then coach of the Dorados de Sinaloa in the Mexican second division, Maradona this time attacked Donald Trump: “The sheriffs of the world that are these yankees believe that, because they have the biggest bomb in the world, they can lead us. But no, not us. This puppet that they have as president cannot buy us “.
A fight against imperialism that he was already playing. About his legendary match against England during the victorious world of 1986, he will explain in his book “Mi Mundial, mi verdad” (My world, my truth) that he wanted “to honor the memory of the dead” by the Falklands War of 1982.
“Lovers” of Hugo Chavez
“I love women, but I came out completely in love (with lunch) because I knew Fidel Castro, (the Libyan president) Mouammar Ghadafi and now I know a giant like Chavez”, launches the former footballer in 2005, after his meeting with the Venezuelan president.
“With Fidel Castro, Chavez (and the presidents of Brazil and Argentina) Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Nestor Kirchner (…), I believe that we can form a good alliance against poverty, corruption and break the filial relationship with the United States, “he said, saying the emotion of having known Chavez had been” perhaps stronger “than a World Cup victory.
In 2013 then 2018, Maradona presented himself as a “soldier” of Chavez’s successor, Nicolas Maduro, and attended his campaign meetings.
On the sidelines of the 2018 World Cup final in Russia, he meets Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian president: “This man wants peace in Palestine. President Abbas has a full country”, it is written under the photo of the two men on the “Diez” Instagram account.
He also supports Evo Morales in November 2019, following the challenge of his re-election to a fourth term speaking of an “orchestrated coup”. Logically, the two have a long friendship and even played a charity face-to-face match in 2008 in La Paz:
“I regret the coup d’état orchestrated in Bolivia. Especially for the Bolivian people, and for Evo Morales, a good person who has always worked for the poorest”, wrote the former captain and legendary number ten of the team Argentinian national on his Instagram.
At home too, in Argentina, Maradona embraces power, when he is on the left. He will say, on the death of Nestor Kirchner in 2010, that “Argentina has lost a gladiator” and, in 2015, will send roses to Cristina Kirchner for the end of her term, eight years after she took over. from her husband.