Three Cuban Hockey Players Remain in Spain: ‘We Were Hungrier Than a Caged Lion’

The Cuban women’s hockey team, with Yadira Miclín Galbán, Marianela López and Daylin Suárez Pérez before they abandoned it in Barcelona. (Facebook/Francys Romero)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 9 May 2023 — Three members of the Cuban field hockey team left their delegation in Barcelona, Spain, on Monday. Yadira Miclín Galbán, Marianela López and Daylin Suárez Pérez were touring Europe with their team and were being trained from May 3 to 13 to participate in the Central American Games in San Salvador 2023, according to journalist Francys Romero.

The athletes are added to the more than 75 Cuban athletes who have “deserted” from their teams between 2022 and 2023, a number that, Romero considers, “will continue to rise” and that does not include those who have left by “other paths such as sports leave, retirement, an illegal or a legal way.”

Suárez, one of the three athletes, commented on Romero’s publication and published several photographs about the life she was leading on the Island and in which she appears cooking, along with several friends, on a wood stove. “That’s why we stayed in Spain,” she wrote. “The Inder (National Institute of Sports, Physical Education and Recreation) has us starving and cooking with firewood. They pay us a pittance, and we are hungrier than a caged lion.”

“You wake up hungry and go to bed hungry,” concluded Suárez, who also released a photograph with her two training shoes, different from each other and in a terrible state: “Look how I was training,” she said, before concluding: “I love my Cuba but who loves me?”

On April 12, the Cuban News Agency (ACN) expressed itself in laudatory terms about Cuban hockey players of both sexes, whose delegations trained to “maintain regional supremacy” in the San Salvador games.

Álex Hernández, president of the Cuban Lawn Hockey Federation, then pointed out that the women’s team would travel to Barcelona at the beginning of May, and the men’s team would fly to Chile and Argentina for the purpose of training. “We plan to end up with a good preparation for both teams so that they arrive in optimal shape at the Central American games,” said the manager.

According to Hernández, the sport was on the right track in Cuba and received advice from its international federation in the person of its Pan American president, Alberto Budeisky, “who ratified his support for the development of this sport on the Island,” he said.

There was a “great motivation” for the trip to Barcelona, Mileysi Argentei, the person in charge of pre-selecting the athletes, told ACN. “Keeping the crown in the area” was the goal that we  committed to in the Central American games, he said. “Despite being a young team, it has on its payroll 11 Central American champions and three with international participation, which can contribute a lot to the rest of the girls.”

At the Barcelona training base, Yadira Miclín and Dailin Suárez were expected to play as defenders, while Marianela López would serve as a forward.

In recent years, the exodus of athletes has been unstoppable. Last April, Cuban rowers Maykol Álvarez, Yoelvis Hernández and Osvaldo Pérez left their team in Santiago de Chile — where the Pan American Games of 2023 would be played — and the others deserted during a stopover in Mexico.

After the Cuban defeat in Miami during the controversial World Baseball Classic, the catcher Iván Prieto also escaped from his hotel and stayed in the United States. The stampede of Cuban athletes became a headache for the regime, which in July 2022 — after the escape of several Cubans in the Athletics World Cup, also in the United States — dismissed Yipsi Moreno, then national commissioner of that sport, from his position.

Moreno, one of the wholehearted supporters of the regime, was also removed from the Council of State, the body that is responsible for choosing the Government and approving the laws proposed by Parliament. Upon leaving the athletics commission, the Inder issued a brief statement: his dismissal, they said, responded to the “personal will” of the former athlete.

Translated by Regina Anavy


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