Why are Cuban Baseball Players Leaving the Country?

Photo: Yamil Lage / AFP – Getty Images

By Benjamin Noria

HAVANA TIMES – On October 7, 2021, an article was published in the sports section of Granma newspaper with the headline: “Why are baseball players leaving? Fragile ethical and moral values underlie every desertion (the opening ended), written by Oscar Sanchez Serra.

In the fourth paragraph, the journalist says that: “There’s no need to hide the ball, what’s happening with Cuban baseball players forms part of the US Government’s (past and present) strategy to destroy the Revolution. Baseball is the perfect target in this ambition, because it’s in our DNA, the roots of our nationality; in our patriotic values, from the time of the Mambises in the 19th century; it’s a national distinctive feature and is our culture.”

That said, the Cuban government had ordered this article to be written (I say this because it’s a well-known fact that there is no freedom of press or speech in Cuba, it’s the Communist Party’s Ideology Department that decides what can and can’t be said in a newspaper) to justify the desertion of Cuban baseball players and to pin the US Government as the main culprit, like it always does.

The US is always to blame for every problem here in Cuba. It seems that the desertion of Cuban baseball players isn’t the only thing the US government is responsible for. They are also the reason why the Economic Reforms Process failed, why the Cuban Cuban Communist Party’s Social, Political and Economic Guidelines failed, why sugar mills are inefficient, why our bread is made badly, why minced soy looks like slime, why two cellphones can’t enter the country through Cuban Customs and why medicines and food couldn’t enter either, why it’s illegal to buy lobster or beef, why Cubans weren’t able to enter a hotel for many years, etc.

In terms of the fragile ethical and moral values that have allegedly broken down in Cuba because of the US government, we can’t ignore the fact that Cuban baseball players who left the U-23 Baseball World Cup (half the team) and signed contracts to play in the major leagues, for example; have done this to live like Sandro Castro, one of Fidel Castro’s grandchildren who has luxury properties in Havana, as well as a club/bar that he himself promotes on Facebook, or drive flashy cars, like the ones this young man travels in.

What’s wrong with Cuban baseball players leaving the team when they leave the country to have the same cars, yachts, bank accounts, private companies abroad and apartments in different countries around the world like the Castros do, or a Mercedes Benz like Miguel Diaz-Canel has?

I think that if the Castros and Miguel Diaz-Canel don’t have weak morals and ethics after living over 40 years of the Revolution with luxuries and an opulent lifestyle, nothing will happen to Cuban baseball players’ morals or ethics either, just because they want to leave the country to seek prosperity, economic progress and a better life.

Read more from Cuba here on Havana Times.

5 thoughts on “Why are Cuban Baseball Players Leaving the Country?

  • Yes, the Cuban baseball players can leave because they have the opportunity. All who know Cuba, know that there are many others who similarly would like to leave, but don’t have the opportunity !

  • Cuban Baseball is a phenomenon.
    The island has always produced an incredible number of outstanding peloteros.
    I have been lucky enough to have attended dozens of baseball games in Havana and in provincial capitals. I have had the fortune to have attended various big sporting events in different stadia in different parts of the world and big baseball games in CUBA compare with anything I’ve ever seen. The occasion, the crowds, the bands and drumming which aficionados bang out when their team is battling, the colours, the banners, the sheer excitement of the spectacle. It’s a wondrous and unique thing to be a part of.
    Old Fidel was rightly proud of Cuba’s phenomenal baseball talent. Of course, as everyone knows, he often used sport for propaganda purposes. Those who support the alternative orthodoxy do the same and baseball figures highly on their propaganda output too.
    Many Cuban sports stars including peloteros, have stayed in Cuba. Many have left. I have met several Cuban baseball players including some who have stayed and some who have left. I have heard various viewpoints which do not necessarily totally conform to either orthodoxy.
    But the simple answer to the question posed by the author:
    Baseball players leave Cuba coz they can make sh*t loads of dollar playing in U.S. Leagues. And good luck to them.
    I hope that the day will come when all Cuban peloteros can represent the Cuban national team. They will be world beaters. They will blow all other international baseball teams away. No Probs.

  • Why are Cuban Baseball Players Leaving the Country? The answer is stated unequivocally in the article’s last sentence: “ . . . just because they want to leave the country to seek prosperity, economic progress and a better life.”

    Are Cuban baseball players or any other recognized sporting group, professional or otherwise in Cuba, any different than the majority of aspiring youthful athletes trying to better their meager economic circumstances in the barrios where they have grown up. They all want what the rest of us want given the opportunity.

    Most Cuban baseball players have cell phones; they all have access to the latest media technologies that provide them with the latest and most current sporting news about their sporting heroes in the United States, Canada, and Europe.

    Be it baseball, basketball, soccer or any other professional sport practiced in Cuba and played professionally in the Western world, Cuban athletes are attuned to the monetary compensation paid to these professional athletes.

    Here they are, the Cuban baseball players, the majority born in extreme poverty, parents having to make all kinds of sacrifices and undergo tremendous struggles to buy a simple pair of running shoes for an aspiring undernourished kid.

    The article clearly points out, and it is well documented, how Cuban parents struggle to provide nutritional diets to their families. The article states: “ . . . why our bread is made badly, why minced soy looks like slime, why two cellphones can’t enter the country through Cuban Customs and why medicines and food couldn’t enter either, why it’s illegal to buy lobster or beef . . .” Imagine that: years in prison if caught consuming beef!!

    Is there a legitimate reason why an aspiring young athlete is denied the privileged of eating nutritional protein from beef if the parents can make the sacrifice to earn the money to feed the child this food? Where else in this world do governments, even Communist governments (North Korea notwithstanding), permit this to take place in their society? Cruel.

    So, those fortunate Cuban baseball players who do make it professionally want some form of economic pay back for their struggles, their families’ struggles, and to show the world that they can compete and be compensated equally well with the rest of the professional athletes of this world. Here in Canada, the Toronto Blue Jays have on their roster two aspiring and very talented professional baseball players who began their careers in Cuba and left.

    Lourdes Yunielki Gourriel Castillo Jr. Lourdes played for Sancti Spiritus of the Cuban National Series before defecting from Cuba. Gurriel was ranked as one of the top international prospects available following his defection. And, Yosver Zulueta is a 23-year-old pitcher that the Blue Jays signed out of Cuba in 2019 for $1.5 million. There are many more Cuban professional baseball players, past and present, in the United States.

    Eating prohibited Cuban beef for these two baseball players will never be a problem again. They set an example to those young aspiring Cuban baseball players that it is possible to attain their professional sporting dreams and to be rightly compensated as a professional athlete in the real world despite what their Communist government tells them.

  • Moses poses (that was accidental – apologies Moses), an interesting question, to which I can provide an answer in at least one instance. Why when one is in possession of the resources and opportunity, decide to stay.

    Those Cubans who like his wife and mine are married to spouses with the benefit of the capitalist system, may decide to stay because they can have an improved standard of living, but also continue to enjoy being an integral part of la familia, retain their culture and ignore the politics of repression and hope for the day when democracy may arrive. They can take holidays both within Cuba and even visas permitting, travel to other countries. They are however, but a tiny minority

    For those Cubans who participate politically in the PCC, there is a fairly good life, with power and possessions far beyond the reach of their average fellow citizens. They can wallow in privilege. Cars, yachts, nice villas, and lots of hot dinners, are reflected in the waistlines, or rather the lack of same. One only needs to look at those stretched out shirts straining the buttons!

  • Asking why Cuban baseball players leave Cuba is a dumb question. Cubans already know exactly why these athletes are leaving. If I were running the propaganda department in Cuba that directed that this article be written, I would have suggested a different topic. The topic I think is far more interesting is to question why anyone in Cuba with the opportunity and resources to leave Cuba instead someone decides to stay. That would be worth the read!

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