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Cuba Formally Ends Repatriation Policy For Athletes, Opens Teams to Cubans Abroad

 Matt Tallarini - World Baseball Network  |    Jul 2nd, 2023 2:44pm EDT

Luis Robert Jr. of Team Cuba is one of several MLB who appeared for Cuba in the 2023 World Baseball Classic. Here, he makes a throw against Team USA during the World Baseball Classic Semifinals at loanDepot park on March 19, 2023 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images)

On Thursday, June 29, the Instituto Nacional De Deportes Educación Física Y Recreación (INDER) announced in Havana, Cuba that the Federación Cubana de Beisbol will bring Cuban-American players and players of Cuban descent to World Baseball Softball Confederation age group tournaments.

Such players will be allowed to represent Cuba alongside Cuban citizens residing in the country.  

Cuba will now likely include players who are playing in the lower levels of the U.S. minor leagues and independent leagues, professional free agents, players from the Liga Mexicana de Beisbol, the Cuban Serie Nacional, Cuban Elite League, and players playing in the Asian professional leagues at the 2023 Pan American Games during late October.

“Once the necessary steps have been completed, we inform you that repatriation is no longer a requirement for Cubans residing abroad to participate in national events organized by INDER,” INDER stated on their social media pages. 

At No. 7 in the World Rankings, Cuba will enter the 2023 Pan American Games aiming for their 13th gold medal. Cuba has 15 total medals at the Pan American Games. The last time Cuba won gold was during the 2007 Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, beating the United States. 

The baseball event at the 2023 Pan American Games will be from October 21-27 at the Baseball and Softball Center in Cerrillos, Chile. 

During the past month, Yasmany Tomas was invited to workout at Estadio Latinoamericano in Havana, but was not selected to the Cuban national team for the 2023 Central American and Caribbean Games due his unwillingness to go through the repatriation process, and also wasn’t been allowed to play for Industriales of the Serie Nacional because of this. 

Since the start of the trade embargo, Cuba hasn’t sent athletes to compete with a national team who were Cuban-Americans or players with Cuban descent. 

Despite dominating numerous international competitions with players solely living under the Cuban government, recent international results in multiple sports, but especially baseball, have forced the government to re-examine the policy. 

Cuba invited players signed with Major League Baseball organizations to the 2023 World Baseball Classic for the first time, and put Luis Robert, Ronald Bolanos, Yoan Moncada, Miguel Romero, Roenis Elias, and Andy Ibanez on the roster. Cuba reached the semifinals in Miami at loanDepot Park in March, losing 14-2 to the United States.

 

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Matt Tallarini - World Baseball Network
Matthew (Matt) Tallarini is the Founder and Chief Correspondent for the World Baseball Network.