Thursday, December 15, 2005

US Blocks Cuba from MLBs World Baseball Championship

Unbelieveable. While all the speculation around the exciting World Baseball Championship centered around Fidel's decision to participate or not, Cuba watchers should have known it was the US that one should really be looking at as a spoiler.

Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association are "very disappointed with the government's decision to deny the participation of a team from Cuba in the World Baseball Classic". The Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets (OFAC) denied Cuba a permit to enter the US and play in the World Baseball Classic for purely political reasons.

Of course the folks in Miami are extatic with this thumb in the eye. Babalu notes that Cuba did not allow the so-called "Ladies in White" to leave the country to receive the Sahkarov Prize in Europe, so this is fair game. Of course this logic equates the most politically charged of all events (rewarding Cuba's dissidents) with the most non-political of events (baseball). It also fails to note that the Cuban Government allowed Oswalso Paya to travel for the award 2 years ago and in this case, did not actually turn down the travel request, but claims the correct forms were not filed in time.

The US denial of Cuban travel is nothing new for the Bush Administration. We deny Grammy nominees, we deny scientists, we deny artists, we deny anyone who is loyal to the Cuban Revolution. But with Major League Baseball pushing so hard for Cuba's participation, and sounding near-certain about it last week, this was a suprise lesson in the harshness of US-Cuba policy, even for me. it also represents a clear case of hypocrisy as the US recenty allowed Cuba's soccer team to particupate in the Gold Cup in the US.

The Cuban street is justifiable outraged. "Enough already!" said Antonio Mayeta, whose brother is a baseball player in Cuba. "It's unbelievable. This is about sports, not politics. In Cuba, baseball is our culture. Everyone was so anxious to see these games."

Good thing I did not muy my tickets for the games in Anaheim and San Diego yet.


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