14ymedio, Havana, 6 October 2021– The Cuban baseball team was preparing that September 24 to leave for the Yaquis de Obregón stadium, in the Mexican state of Sonora, while Loidel Rodríguez prepared his escape. At 4:35 in the afternoon, he told the journalist Francys Romero, he jumped “from the second floor of the hotel because into a palm tree” and a car was already waiting for him downstairs.
Eleven days after leaving the Quality Inn hotel, this Spaniard applied for asylum in the United States, as did Uber Mejías from Santiago last Sunday. Both are two of the 12 athletes who defected during the U23 World Cup in Mexico.
Rodríguez, who will be represented by RI Total Sports by Carlos Pérez from Havana, had been included in the team led by Eriel Sánchez after averaging 239 with three doubles and two homers in the qualifying stage of the last National Series, reported the site Pelota Cubana (Cuban Baseball).
As the days go by, more details of the stay of the Cuban players in Mexico are known, such as the story of Yudiel González. The player from Ciego de Avila told the Cuban station Radio Rebelde that they were pressuring him to escape through messages that reached his cell phone so that he would lose concentration. “In the lobby,” he said, “they approached us so that we would go with them.”
Francys Romero referred to González’s case and detailed that during his stay in Mexico, the player “got into a car but he repented and asked to be returned to the hotel.” The reporter said that “he cannot argue about the pressure exerted” and “not speak of his own attempt” to escape, which seems to have already been forgiven.
Recently it was also announced that some athletes were stopped during their check-in at the airport because “they were carrying cigars in order to market them and get some monetary advantage due to the economic scarcity that prevails on the island.”
This Miami-based journalist also says that the Cuban Baseball Federation “subjected its athletes to a 23-hour journey” to transport them by land to Ciudad Obregón, thereby saving “50 dollars for each of the 40 members of the delegation” making the trip.
Last Saturday the escapes of Loidel Chapellí Jr., 19, Yandi Yanes, 23, Bryan Chi, 22, and Miguel Antonio González, 21, became known. Before that, also escaping were Geisel Cepeda and pitchers Yeinel Zayas, Luis Dannys Morales, Uber Mejías, Dariel Fernández, in addition to catcher Loidel Rodríguez, outfielder Reinaldo Lazaga and infielder Diasmany Palacios.
On the island, the sports authorities have insisted on holding the United States responsible for the athletes’ flight. The National Institute of Sports, Physical Education and Recreation (Inder) accused the blocking of the agreement between the Cuban Baseball Federation and Major League Baseball, of stimulating “the trafficking of athletes in defense of political interests.”
Romero believes that “these flights are not unique and speak, above all, of the limited horizon of both political and economic opportunities available to Cuban citizens,” he said. “Let us remember that the association with professionalism was never an interest of the Castro government. Rather, it was a farewell.”
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