EspañolArgentinean soccer legend Diego Maradona recently celebrated 12 years of sobriety with a video from his home in Dubai.
In the video, Maradona, whose fans literally worship him, tours his living room while displaying various photos and memorabilia.
Besides the usual family portraits, Maradona, who can be heard panting and slurring his words, proudly points to those taken with the two political leaders who gave Latin America some of its most repressive governments in history: Hugo Chávez and Fidel Castro.
Maradona has never hidden his political inclinations. He publicly backed Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela, ardently defends the Cuban dictatorship, and even became friends with the late Libyan despot Muammar Gaddafi.
He begins by showing off a framed letter that Castro sent him earlier this year to debunk rumors of his death. The next stop is a photograph in which Maradona is standing next to, in his words, “the greatest man” (Castro) and “his best disciple” (Chávez).
After the family section, yet another photograph of Castro and Maradona crowns his state-of-the-art media room, equipped with a large-flat screen, a powerful stereo, and a well-lit swimming pool. It’s a bizarre mix that could perhaps mirror Castro’s lifestyle, but certainly not that of the average Cuban.
The tour ends with another letter that Argentinean President Cristina Kirchner sent him when Don Diego, his father, died in June. “I framed it, because to me, she is my president,” he mumbles.
Siding with Power
When it comes to the internal politics of Argentina, Diego has shown more flexibility, posing for pictures with every president regardless of the ruling party. In recent years, he became a fervent admirer of Cristina Kirchner, going as far as to upload a video in July supporting the Front for Victory candidate for governor of Buenos Aires in the upcoming elections.
The winner of the 1986 World Cup has not been without criticism, especially for enjoying such a lavish lifestyle while claiming to support populist regimes.
Last year, after Maradona expressed his support for Maduro, Catherine Fulop, the Venezuelan-born actress and Argentinean TV host could no longer hold back: “You’re one of those who talks about the left and dines with the right, with your SUVs and your women here and there.”
Contrary to popular opinion, Maradona’s taste for luxury is not inconsistent with the ideas he claims to espouse. Who came up with the absurd idea that supporters of populist and interventionist governments are best represented by a humble and discreet way of life? It’s quite the opposite.
Opulence has marked Maradona’s career, as it has Chávez’s and Castro’s. But unlike his politico pals, “El Diego” did not amass his fortune through corruption and plunder. Nevertheless, as a public figure, he has legitimized their corruption by cozying up to these men, and played cover for their human-rights abuses.
Maradona, who sports a Che Guevara tattoo on his left arm and one of Fidel Castro on his left calf, has never shied away from rubbing shoulders with authoritarian rulers, such as the Dubai monarchy.
Instead of using his cult-like celebrity status to denounce these oppressors, Diego attends their cocktail parties.
In early 2000, Maradona took a prolonged trip to Cuba to rehabilitate from his drug addiction. Instead of opting for the same hospitals available to ordinary Cubans, as any true believer of the Cuban revolution would, he chose an exclusive clinic open only to “foreigners” with US dollars, where he even had cocaine delivered to him.
It’s also no coincidence that Maradona chose to move to Dubai.
The flashy emirate fulfills the two basic tenets of the Maradonian ideology: a big, powerful government and luxury. This is where Maradona feels at home, away from the everyday pressures of the soccer pitch, using his public image to legitimize the worst governments of the world.