The Miami Herald
May 6, 1999

Protester's target: Castro

Herald Staff Writer

Trembling with restrained emotion, protester Diego Tintorero said Wednesday that
he ran onto the field during the historic Cuba-U.S. baseball game at Camden
Yards in Baltimore to make a statement against Cuba's leader.

``I wasn't protesting against the game or the players,'' he said. ``I was protesting
against Fidel Castro.''

While the Cuban National Team beat the Baltimore Orioles 12-6, Tintorero felt that
he championed a little victory for freedom of expression -- even if it cost him a
scrape, he said.

At Joe's, a Miami River restaurant, Tintorero showed off his battle scars: cleat
marks he said were left by the Cuban umpire at second base, Cesar Valdes, who
tackled him. Tintorero said he didn't know Valdes was Cuban when he came

``It was a trampling of human rights,'' said Tintorero, 42. ``But I don't hate the
man. He is just one more mistaken Cuban trapped in a bad situation. I
understand him: You have to wear seven masks at once to survive in Cuba.''

Even so, Tintorero seemed visibly upset by the umpire's body slam. He
complained about lingering lower back pain.

At the news conference, Tintorero sat with his attorney, Juan Carlos Parets, his
girlfriend, Grisel Martinez; her daughter, Betsy; and his son, co-protester Diego
Jr., 13.

Parets prevented any discussion of pending charges against Tintorero by the
Baltimore police who arrested him. Neither did they speak about possible
lawsuits against the umpire or Cuba.

However, Tintorero effusively praised the kind treatment he received from
Baltimore players, officials and police during and after the incident.

``Even though he didn't speak my language, I could see the support in Charles
Johnson's eyes,'' Tintorero said in Spanish, speaking of the Orioles' and former
Marlins' catcher. Johnson and B.J. Surhoff of the Orioles broke up the tussle.

``The only thing I remember Surhoff saying to Valdes as he approached was:
`This is not Cuba. You can't do that here. This is not a communist society.' ''

Also present at the conference were leaders of the Cuban exile group Vigilia
Mambisa, to which Tintorero said he belongs. He said he supports all exile
groups, except those in favor of negotiating change through talks with Castro.

Tintorero says he didn't make the sign he displayed, which read ``Human Rights
for Cuba.'' He says he got the banner -- forbidden in the stadium that day -- from a
woman he didn't know. She passed it to him as she was escorted out of the
stadium with Sylvia Iriondo of Mothers Against Repression, another anti-Castro
group, he said.

Tintorero, a carpenter by trade, was arrested in a protest on Southwest Eighth
Street last October and is a known former Alpha 66 militant. His sign back then
read, ``Peace, Not War.''

Despite Tintorero's trespassing offense, Miami-Dade Mayor Alex Penelas said
Wednesday in a telephone interview that he expects some official response to the
umpire's behavior as well.

``What is good for the goose is good for the gander,'' Penelas said. ``That's one of
the ironic things over the whole stink the ACLU has created over the Cigar
Aficionado ban at the airport. Why hasn't the ACLU gone out of its way to
threaten the authorities with a lawsuit that authored all of this censorship at
Camden Yards on Monday?''

The American Civil Liberties Union is asking the county to instruct its employees
about basic constitutional rights. The request was provoked by the removal from
airport newsstands of a Cigar Aficionado magazine issue that encouraged readers
to rethink the U.S. embargo against Cuba.