Last week the Trump administration ended the deal that was made between Major League Baseball (MLB) and Cuba. The deal allowed Cuban players to legally emigrate to the U.S. without defecting from their home country. The deal was made during the Obama administration as part of an effort to regain contact with Cuba since the Bautista regime. It was a step in the right direction, as far as Cuba-US relations, and a mistake on the administration’s part by removing it.
Details of the deal included a payment to the Cuban Baseball Federation (CBF) being equivalent of 25% of the players’ signing bonus. On the MLB’s end, they could receive an elite prospect. For the CBF, they get to fund the program and create a space where kids can grow up in a place that offers them opportunities to achieve their dreams. The ending of this deal could potentially bolster the underground economy of human trafficking, an industry that’s benefitted criminals all over the Americas. Before this deal was created, players would be smuggled through trade routes, encountering Drug Cartels and other crime organizations on the way to the U.S.
Detractors of this deal say Cuba’s government gets money through the CBF, which is unacceptable to them. Cuba hasn’t been a threat to the U.S. since the 60’s, as the quality of life in the country has nosedived since then. If the average Cuban citizen doesn’t have regular access to food and medicare, how could they raise a legitimate army? In a stagnant and state-controlled economy like Cuba’s, no less? The money the government gets through the CBF is a drop in the bucket, and won’t be nearly enough for that country to go back to what it was pre-Castro. Why should the players suffer the consequences because of an old spat their oppressive government has with the US?
The nixing of this deal comes off as Trump pandering to red scare fanatics. It makes even less sense considering we also do business with countries like China and Saudi Arabia, whose governments actions are in opposition to what we value as Americans. The Cuba deal was great, as it gave prospects a chance to follow their dreams without leaving their family for good. Sports and politics in our society have been connected for better or worse. This time the latter rang true, with the fans losing out in the end.