Thursday, March 13, 2008

US Wins, Cuba Loses Again

Do US athletes desert the US for other countries? Did the members of the NY Philharmonic Orchestra desert the US for North Korea during their recent visit? There are, however, a few fugitives from US justice who have found sanctuary in Cuba. We'd like them back, but only to put them in prison. They're among the few people in Cuba who want relations with the US to remain as distant and unfriendly as possible. However, Raul Castro might let them down.

If Raul begins to relax the Cuban government stranglehold on the country's 12 million citizens, it's possible we'll the birth of a new and free Cuba. And perhaps improving relations will put a few of our most wanted criminals into their waiting prison cells.

Meanwhile, maybe we can begin to think about a resurgence of Cuban baseball players in the US. Spring training in Cuba. And one day a major league team in Havana.

Up to Seven Cuban Soccer Players Desert Their Team in Florida

Cuban sports officials were stunned Thursday by the desertions of up to seven soccer players in Florida. Still, the under-23 team will play on.

The Cuban team will play Honduras on Thursday night in Tampa, Fla. It's Cuba's second game in a qualifying tournament for the Beijing Olympics, sponsored by the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football, or Concacaf.

The Cuban delegation notified Concacaf on Thursday that the team will continue to participate, Concacaf General Secretary Chuck Blazer said in a statement.

The players, who had not yet reported to authorities, went missing after Cuba tied the U.S. 1-1 Tuesday.

"Concacaf has been notified by the head of the Cuban delegation that several players have left the team," Mr. Blazer said. "Concacaf has no information on the location of the players or the circumstances surrounding their separation from the delegation."

Cuban sports officials and Concacaf have not identified the missing players. Missing from Wednesday's practice were: Jose Manuel Miranda, 21 years old; Erlys Garcia Baro, Yenier Bermudez, Yordany Alvarez and Loanni Prieto, all 22.

"We feel really badly," Antonio Garces of the Cuban Soccer Association told the Associated Press in a telephone interview.

The five men are expected to be in Miami by this weekend, said Marcos Ommati, a spokesman with professional soccer team Miami FC.

He said Wednesday that he had not spoken with the players and didn't know their whereabouts, but said he had spoken with someone who told him to expect the players.

Player Yendry Diaz told ESPN in an interview that he and forward Eder Roldan also had left the team, bringing the total to seven.

Under the U.S.'s "wet foot, dry foot" policy, Cubans who reach U.S. soil are allowed to remain in the country and apply for U.S. residency after one year.


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2:09 AM  

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