For all you Castro-haters and baseball nerds—and pursuant to Katherine Mangu-Ward's post on incremental change in Raul's Cuba—it seems that a few more top-ranked Cuban ballplayers have defected to the United States. According to Newsday, Yadel Marty and Yasser Gomez, two members of the Cuban national baseball squad, were tossed from their local team (Industriales) for "a grave act of indiscipline," after having been caught planning to flee the island. According to ESPNdeportes.com, "The possibility of an MLB career was not the primary reason pitcher Yadel Marti and outfielder Yasser Gomez left Cuba in a raft during the holidays."
The first and most important reason, according to them, was leaving a life of abuse, humiliation and injustices. "We are tired that the authorities didn't respect us and treat us like children," said Marti said, Cuba's best pitcher in the first World Baseball Classic in 2006. "In Cuba, although we were good players, we were underestimated and disrespected. Injustices forced us to decide," added Gomez.
Marti and Gomez, who left Cuba illegally on Dec. 22, spoke with ESPNdeportes.com from New York, where they have been since Thursday. Both players contracted Puerto Rican agent Jaime Torres to represent them in their pursuit of getting MLB contracts. They plan to travel to the Dominican Republic in the next couple of days to begin the process. Contrary to what was reported earlier, Marti and Gomez never went through the Dominican Republic during their two-week odyssey that took them from Cuba to Mexico and then to the United States.
In other Cuba news, I have a few quibbles with this piece in the Los Angeles Times, co-authored by the always-interesting Peter Kornbluh, director of the Cuba Documentation Project at the indespensible lefty research institute National Security Archive, but the basic premise is correct: A new approach to Cuba policy is badly needed and the incoming administration is our best hope for changing the United State's current strategy of isolation. Oddly, while Kornbluh mentions that while a slight majority of Miami Cubans now favor lifting the embargo, he fails to note that Barack Obama has promised to keep it in place. (H/T: Jeff Schaler)
Previous Reason coverage of Cuba here.