Saturday, April 19, 2014

No One Walks Off The Island

The title of this post is taken from some great investigative reporting by ESPN The Magazine writer Scott Eden. It tells an unflattering story of MLB stars Yasiel Puig (LA Dodgers) and Alrodis Chapman (Cinnanati Reds). It appears, though not proven, that these two men fingered innocent men to Cuban authorities in order to cover their attempts to defect from Cuba. Not all Cuban defectors took this route. Jose Fernandez (Miami Marlins) was just 15 when he and his mother made a fourth attempt to get to U.S. shores. Three previous attempts resulted in Cuban imprisonment. On the fourth attempt Jose's mother fell overboard and he jumped into the ocean and saved her. How naive am I, thinking this is how all Cuban defectors get to the United States.

The story of Puig's defection without the alledged informing, is a story of a talented man wanting a better life in a freer country. There is nothing wrong with that and one can assume that Puig was unaware that death, Mexican cartel (Los Zetas) participation, bribery of government officials and torture would all be involved in his goal to play Major League baseball. The difference between Puig, Chapman and Fernandez is the financial reward at the end. Fernandez was just 15 and his baseball abilities, if known, had no immediate payoff. Whereas, Puig and Chapman were worth alot of money. As you will learn from Scott Eden's reporting there were investors financing the defection of Puig. In return they were supposed to get up to 20% of his contract money with whatever MLB team won the bidding for his services.

As you read this article, one wonders who benefits from the Cuban Embargo that has been in place since October, 1960? I see no political advantages for Cuba or the United States. There use to be a strong anti-Cuban lobby made up of Cuban refugees. But their clout has weakened as they age and younger Cuban-Americans seem to be more moderate in their views toward the island.

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