By Leif Skodnick

World Baseball Network

The Federacion Cubana de Beisbol issued a statement Wednesday saying that the United States Government has hindered the Communist island nation’s participation in the World Baseball Classic in March by not granting MLB players of Cuban origin to play for Cuba in the event.

According to the FCB, the U.S. Government only recently issued permission for the Cuban team to participate in the World Baseball Classic, which has prevented Cuba from participating in certain aspects of pre-tournament preparation.

“We had not been asked to deliver the list of the 50 athletes eligible to make up the team that will represent us in this important tournament, as was already done with the rest of the countries that qualified for the V Clásico,” Juan Reinaldo Pérez Pardo, the president of the FCB, said in the statement.

Pérez Pardo said in the statement that the lack of U.S. Government authorization is the reason the FCB had not released a list of 50 players eligible to play for Cuba in the World Baseball Classic.

A email requesting for comment from the U.S. Department of State and clarification on whether Cuban MLB players would need the U.S. government’s permission remained unanswered at press time.

Disagreement between the Cuban and U.S. governments has smoldered for over 60 years. The U.S. Government began a trade embargo against Cuba in 1959 under President Dwight D. Eisenhower, following the toppling of Fulgencio Batista’s government by a Communist revolution led by Fidel Castro. As Castro’s government nationalized industries owned by American companies from 1959 through the early years of the Kennedy administration and culminating with the Cuban Missile Crisis, the embargo got progressively stronger. 

Cuba has long contended that the U.S. embargo is in violation of international law, a view supported by multiple non-binding resolutions voted on by the United Nations General Assembly.

Cuba is slated to play in pool play at Taichung City, Taiwan from March 8-12, 2023. Should Cuba advance from pool play, they would play a quarterfinal game at the Tokyo Dome on either March 15 or 16. The Cuban team would play, at most, two games on U.S. soil, and would have to advance to the semifinals of the tournament before they played in the United States.

“The discriminatory treatment against Cuba caused by the United States Government is unfortunate and the Cuban Baseball Federation firmly rejects it. The motivations are purely political and threaten the exercise and enjoyment of sport,” the FCB statement said. “No other country participating in the Classic has to face this complex scenario. It is part of a government conduct that threatens all sectors of life in Cuba, including something as noble as sports, and that affects all Cuban lovers and fans of baseball.”

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