14ymedio, Havana, 10 August 2022 — Cuban basketball players Yusleidis Miranda and Anay García made their best play, but it was not in a game; it was against the regime. Both were hired last June through the National Institute of Sports, Physical Education and Recreation (INDER) to play for three months with the club Liga Municipal Monsignor Romero of El Salvador. The athletes have broken that link, and this week they arrived in the United States.
In a video shared on social networks, Miranda documented her journey through El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico, until she reached the southern border of the United States, which she described as a “country of freedom.”
The three months she had to be with the Salvadoran team were reduced to three matches. Her goal since she left the island, like that of her friend, was to emigrate, as she explained in a post of gratitude to her family: “Thank you to all the people who trusted me and reached out to me. One more goal accomplished, and let’s go for more.”
In her brief stay with the Monsignor Romero Municipal League, Miranda scored 49 points with a success rate of 44% and recorded 41 rebounds. García scored 58 points with 47 rebounds. Both were recognized on the island as athletes of the year in 2018.
Her level of play led Miranda to be hired for a month in 2018 by the Dominican team Santiago de Los Caballeros. “Following that contract we returned, and I was selected to play in Colombia at the Central American Championship in Barranquilla, where I obtained a silver medal,” the athlete told the reporter.
According to journalist Daimir Díaz Matos, Miranda dreamed of “being part of the National Team and being an athlete recognized by Cuba.”
Miranda’s next move was to leave for El Salvador. She was hired by the same team from which she resigned a few days ago: the Monsignor Romero Municipal League, but with the permission of INDER. The institution allowed her to establish the contacts and procedures necessary to emigrate.
Anay García’s experience, for her part, was different. This 6’4″ athlete was one of the members of the Pinareño team that consecutively won four titles in the Superior Basketball League, the last of them in 2016.
With gaming experience in the leagues of the Dominican Republic and Argentina, García went through the COVID-19 pandemic in isolation, training alone in the gym of San Juan and Martínez. The contract in El Salvador represented the opportunity to leave the island and break her dependence on INDER. The basketball player now sees her sporting future in the United States.
The exodus of Cuban athletes has also generated a notable vacuum in athletics. After three retirements and a failure at the XVIII World Athletics Championships, which were held in Eugene, OR, USA, where no medals were won, the National Athletics Commissioner herself, Yipsi Moreno, was removed from her position.
The Olympic champion in Beijing 2008 and silver in Athens 2004 was accused of privileging athletes close to her, while harassing others who ended up leaving athletics or leaving the country.
The abandonment of Yusleidis Miranda and Anay García adds to the bleeding of Cuban athletes in recent months, including that of the Olympic medalist and world record champion, Yaimé Pérez, who escaped after Cuba’s sports failure in Eugene.
During that championship, the physiotherapist Carlos González Morales and the javelinist Yiselena Ballar Rojas, who left the delegation in Miami, also defected as soon as their plane landed.
Translated by Regina Anavy
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