Cuban officials have prevented their baseball players from going to other nations and join baseball clubs as free agents for decades.
These athletes have been constrained to play for their national amateur team.
With their willingness to play for important baseball organizations like the Major League Baseball (MLB) clubs in the United States, they had to give up their allegiance to Cuba.
Considering the difficulty of foreign nationals to enter the US Mainland, these Cuban baseball players have had no choice but to strike deals with unscrupulous people.
These athletes would then have to grapple with becoming victims of trans-national crimes like human trafficking, human smuggling, and blackmailing.
Among these baseball players are Liván Hernández and his brother, Orlando “El Duque” Hernández.
In 1995, Liván defected from Cuba and escaped through Mexico via a recruiter. In spite of his harrowing experience, he was instrumental in the Florida Marlins gaining the MLB victory in 1997.
In addition, he earned the World Series Most Valuable Player recognition. On Christmas Day 1997, Orlando defected from Cuba on a boat near the Bahamas. Then, he was offered shelter in Costa Rica.
As a free agent, Liván’s brother signed a $6.6 million deal with the New York Yankees. Orlando was victorious with World Series titles in 1998, 1999, and 2000.
He earned another victory with the Chicago White Sox in 2005. While he was en route to the US, Leonys Martin, center fielder for the Cleveland Indians, was abducted in Mexico.
Jose Abreu, first baseman for the Chicago White Sox, had to destroy his counterfeit passport and swallow it while he was traveling to the US.
To address these distressing experiences of Cuban baseball players, the MLB, the MLB Players Association, and the La Federación Cubana de Béisbol (FCB) (Cuban Baseball Federation) have signed an agreement on Wednesday.
The objective of the treaty is to provide a safe and lawful process for Cuban baseball players to enter the US.
The MLB stated that this agreement, which is effective until October 31, 2021, would finally terminate the hardships these athletes have to go through to pursue their Major League dreams.
The Cuban baseball players will be issued work visas to be able to play in the US. The MLB will shoulder the costs, paying the FCB to give them their rights to play outside Cuba.
The athletes are required to be 25 years old and above and have at least six years of professional experience.
Younger players who are at least 18 years old are also allowed with terms and conditions. Under the MLB’s labor contract with the FCB, the Cuban baseball players will be categorized as international professionals.