14ymedio, Havana, November 6, 2023 — The seven Cuban athletes who escaped in the Pan American Games have not yet gone to the Chilean authorities with any kind of request, but they are in the country legally. As the Undersecretary of the Interior, Manuel Monsalve, told La Tercera, both the hockey players Yunia Milanés, Jennifer Martínez, Yakira Guillén, Lismary González, Helec Carta and Geidy Morales and the hurdler Yoao Illas – who won a bronze medal – “have visas that allows them to be in Chile for 90 days.” Monsalve specified that the visas “can even be renewed for 90 more days” if the athletes require it, so deportation would be ruled out.
So far, none of the seven Cubans who left the delegation of the Island has approached the Chilean authorities, the Minister of Government spokesperson, Camila Vallejo, told the same media.
“None of these athletes has submitted any kind of request,” explained the official, who stressed that “if there is any request, it must be channeled through the relevant institutions, in this case, the National Migration Service”
Vallejo accepted that although there is concern in the case of escaped Cuban athletes, “it is not up to us to go over the procedures that are stipulated for this type of case.”
Meanwhile, the deputy of National Renewal, Diego Schalper, asked the Government of Gabriel Boric to grant them political asylum, which would show “a clear signal in defense of human rights and democracy,” in addition to the fact that Law 20,430 on refugees in Chile can be applied without any objection.
The president of the Communist Party, Lautaro Carmona, blamed the US embargo for the abandonment of athletes on the Island. “Who creates those conditions, if not the economic blockade that is criminal with respect to health, education and has an effect on sports, in art, on dance?” he asked Bio Bio Chile.
Cuba won 30 gold, 21 silver and 17 bronze medals for a total of 68, which keeps them in fifth place, surpassed by Canada, Mexico, Brazil and the United States. However, it had a lower mark than that achieved four years ago, when it achieved 100 metals in the Pan American Games of Lima (2019) and 97 in Toronto (2015), where it already had its worst results in more than two decades, after reaching 265 in Havana (1991) and 238 in Mar del Plata (1995).
The departures of the hockey players and the hurdler only confirm the nightmare that weighs on Cuban sport. This decline is linked to the deep crisis in which the Island is immersed, which complicates the preparation of athletes. Journalist Francys Romero counted 61 athletes who have abandoned contracts or delegations during 2023.
Cuban baseball failed again. It reached the group stage for the second time in a row. The Island’s only victory was against Colombia, with a score of 4-3. It was followed by three consecutive games with defeats by Venezuela, Brazil and the Dominican Republic, causing an unexpected debacle.
The sport considered a cultural heritage has not won gold in the Pan American Games since Rio de Janeiro in 2007.
Translated by Regina Anavy
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