14ymedio, Havana, November 9, 2023 — The euphoria with which Miguel Díaz-Canel celebrated the conquest of 30 gold, 21 silver and 17 bronze medals at the Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile is being buried by the escape of 21 of the 412 members of the Cuban delegation: six hockey players, a basketball player, a hurdler, three rowers and five athletes without details about their specialties. The other five “could be in Chile doing tourism,” speculated the Minister of the Interior, Carolina Tohá, accepting that the authorities do not know with certainty their location, but they have confirmed that they have not left the country.
The official confirmed that this Wednesday, in addition to the seven athletes who are represented by the Cuban lawyer Mijail Bonito and a basketball player, five others “approached the authorities to ask for refuge.” She stressed that because they have started a process “they cannot reveal the identities.” Likewise, “we cannot comment on the basis of your request, as they must be subjected to careful analysis.”
This Wednesday the Radio Cooperativa journalist, Cristofer Espinoza, published on his social networks that in the rowing team, made up of 20 athletes, only 17 showed up to return to the Island.
As the days go by, details of the escapes of the hockey players Yunia Milanés, Jennifer Martínez, Yakira Guillén, Lismary González, Helec Carta and Geidy Morales are revealed: According to La Tercera, the athletes spoke in Havana, six days before traveling to Chile, about the possibility of taking advantage of the Pan American Games to escape despite the consequences that this could bring.
The journalist from Radio Cooperativa, Cristofer Espinoza, published on his social networks that in the rowing team, made up of 20 athletes, only 17 showed up to return to the Island
The escape would not be easy, the Cuban lawyer said, because in events outside the Island, the “totalitarian dictatorship” keeps an eye on the athletes and takes away their passports to exercise “greater control.”
After leaving the delegation, the hockey players divided into three groups. Some traveled to Iquique, others went to O’Higgins and one is in Concepción. These people are with “friends, national and foreign,” said lawyer Mijail Bonito.
With these escapes, there would be 71 Cuban athletes who have abandoned contracts or delegations during 2023.
Santiago Ford, the Cuban who gave Chile a gold medal in the decathlon event, asked for support for the escaped athletes. In relation to the hockey players, he told the local television station TVN that “every athlete, every time he leaves Cuba, thinks twice because one says ’I have a future’, but it is complicated.”
He said that he found ot there were “many mixed feelings because we come from the same place. Only athletes know why they make that decision. We are no one to judge or criticize. We are going through a difficult time and the decision is made by each person.”
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