Published: Thu, April 11, 2019
Sport | By Ruben Hill

Trump administration cancels MLB-Cuba deal

Trump administration cancels MLB-Cuba deal

The 25 per-cent release fee that teams would pay to Cuban clubs as part of the agreement was tantamount to "human trafficking", a senior government official told the Washington Post.

The initial deal, which was expected to run through October 2021, allowed Cuban players to sign with clubs under rules similar to those for players from Japan and South Korea.

First negotiated by the Obama administration, the agreement was meant to prevent Cuban players from undertaking risky escapes from Cuba, and from having to give up their citizenship to play in the United States. Cuban players older than 25 years old and with six years of experience were eligible for the arrangement.

The senior Trump administration official suggested that the agreement would have subjected the players to "human trafficking" by the Cuban government, making them "pawns of the Cuba dictatorship".

Major League Baseball and the CBF reached a historic agreement in December that would allow players to come to the USA via a work visa with Major League Baseball teams paying the CBF for the players' rights.

Now that the deal has been put on political hold, it, unfortunately, looks like there will be more harrowing stories of Cuban born players on their path to the Major League Baseball.

Another U.S. official added, "Major League Baseball has been informed of the dangers of dealing with Cuba". It included the stories Yasiel Puig, Jose Abreu, Yoenis Cespedes, Leonys Martin and Yunel Escobar, which were stories that the deal was supposed to end. Before this, the only way for Cuban players to play on USA teams was for them to defect. "For me and a lot of our fellow Cuban players who have already established ourselves here in this country, we're fortunate enough to have our families here". While playing on the Cuban national team in Rotterdam, Netherlands in 2009, he defected. Under the agreement, Cuban players may return to the island during the off-season, unlike those who defect. An earlier try in 2008 was foiled, and Chapman was kept off Cuba's team in the 2008 Olympics. It's definitely hard for a lot of Cuban players who are not playing at this level here in the States.

Given how outmoded and manifestly ineffective the Embargo has been over the past half century plus, it's hard to say how this ruling serves anyone's interest other than politicians who want to appear tough on Cuba for their own political interests. Trump has especially stepped up pressure on Cuba recently over its support for Venezuela's socialist president, Nicolas Maduro.

Though the US has launched economic sanctions against Venezuela, the country is still getting resources brought in by other countries, including Cuba.

Former Obama official Ben Rhodes lashed out at the Trump administration's decision saying the move is "cruel and serves no objective", adding that it is a "humanitarian issue" to allow Cuban players to play in the Major League Baseball.

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