By Leif Skodnick
World Baseball Network
The Federacion Cubana de Beisbol issued a statement Monday alleging the U.S. Government and tournament organizers are discriminating against the Cuban team for the World Baseball Classic by barring Cuban players who are U.S. residents and other teams from traveling to the island to train.
“The license granted by the Government of the United States to the organizers of the V World Baseball Classic for athletes of Cuban origin, residing in that country, to join the Cuba team in this important event, prohibits these athletes, whether from MLB or no, travel to Cuba to participate in any action related to the contest,” the statement issued by the FCB begins. The statement was issued in Spanish through Cuban media outlet JIT.cu.
“This provision includes not only the current phase of training that takes place in the Latin American Stadium, but also the moment after the competition, which means that they could not even celebrate together with their teammates and the fans, in the event that our team win the V Clásico,” the statement continues.
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 FCB announced a 50-man list for the World Baseball Classic on January 8. The World Baseball Classic has announced a full slate of workouts and exhibitions games for teams in each group.
Spring training for MLB begins on Feb. 16 when pitchers and catchers report to their respective team camps. Several MLB players, including Ronald Bolaños (Kansas City Royals), Luis Miguel Romero (Oakland Athletics), Luis Robert (Chicago White Sox), Lazaro Armenteros (Oakland Athletics), Yoan Moncada (Chicago White Sox), and Andy Ibanez (Detroit Tigers) were named to Cuba’s 50-man roster.