MLB

Miguel Cabrera pleads for family's safety as violence grows in Venezuela

Cody Derespina

Baseball superstar star Miguel Cabrera reached out to his beleaguered Venezuelan countrymen in a heart-wrenching Instagram video posted Monday, pleading with shadowy elements within the country to spare his family while offering to help the people of the collapsing socialist state any way he could.

As news emerges that Venezuelans are even to the point of rationing toothpaste amid widespread food shortages and chronic inflation that has sparked protests and fierce – and treacherous – opposition to President Nicolas Maduro, Cabrera spoke of how the country’s crisis has even reached him in the United States.

“I am tired of hearing that they are going to kidnap my mother, and I don’t know whether it is a policeman or a bad guy, I don’t know who they are,” Cabrera said in Spanish in the video, which was translated by The Detroit Free Press. “All I know is if I don’t pay, those people disappear.”

Saying he had always been told “not to get involved in politics,” Cabrera explained he felt he needed to speak up because “they have kidnapped our country.” Cabrera was ostensibly referring to the rule of Maduro, who has cracked down as tens of thousands of protesters demonstrate daily against him.

Cabrera said he had been told by “the chavistas” – those who supported ex-leader Hugo Chavez and his successor, Maduro – that “’if you come to Venezuela, we will break you, we will kill you.’”

“They only thing I will tell you is please, do not hurt my family. I am begging you,” Cabrera said.

He added: “This is a greeting for the people of the resistance. You are not alone; we will continue to support you.”

Born in Maracay, the 34-year-old Detroit Tigers slugger said he “grew up in the slums and I know what it is like.” Though Cabrera, a two-time American League Most Valuable Player, 11-time All-Star and World Series champion, has become one of the most recognizable faces on the baseball diamond, he said he’s sent medicine, food and other supplies back to his homeland.

"My people, I am speaking to you from my heart, there is no war, there is only a war for power,” Cabrera said. “Let’s call for elections. Call yourself whatever you want, a chavista, opposition, whatever you want to call yourself. But we need to have elections.”

The Instagram message on Monday was one of the first times Cabrera has spoken at length about the Venezuelan upheaval. In May, however, he posted another online video and seemed to suggest talk was cheap in the current climate.

“Sending a message right now does not mean anything, because they’re fighting right now,” Cabrera said. “They’re fighting for food. They’re fighting for a better life. They’re fighting for everything, for medicine. Somebody’s got to step up…because people are dying in Venezuela.”

Cabrera enters MLB’s second half as a lifetime .319 hitter with a .397 on-base percentage and 457 home runs. He’s led the AL twice in doubles, home runs and RBIs and is widely viewed as one of the greatest hitters of his generation.