Saturday, August 18, 2012

Cuban defector from women’s baseball tournament identified

Cuban defector from women's baseball tournament identified
By Marty Klinkenberg, Edmonton Journal August 17, 2012

EDMONTON - The Cuban baseball player who disappeared overnight Monday
from Edmonton in a suspected attempt to defect is Odrisleisis Pequero
Del Sol.

A 21-year-outfielder from Ciego de Avila, 460 kilometres east of Havana,
Pequero appeared in just one game at the World Cup of Women's Baseball
before going missing from Lister Hall, the residence at the University
of Alberta playing host to the eight teams participating in the
international tournament.

On Tuesday morning, Pequero crossed the border into the United States
and later called the Cuban delegation to say she was safe and in the
U.S. Travelling on a visa acquired in Chicago, where the Cuban team had
a connecting flight to Edmonton, she was able to enter the United States
legally and has not yet requested asylum, but can do so while her visa
remains valid.

The Cuban delegation has not publicly acknowledged Pequero's departure,
but police were called Tuesday morning to Lister Hall when it was
discovered that one of the players was gone. Police said the player was
not officially listed as missing because she had also legally entered
Canada, and was free to travel.

Pequero has since been removed from the Cuban national team's roster at
the World Cup of Women's baseball. Regulations require players to remain
on a team's roster as long as they are at the event, even if injured and
unable to play.

A handful of players have defected in Edmonton while playing at
international baseball tournaments over the years, including three
members of Cuba's junior national team in 2008. A Cuban player has never
previously defected from the Women's World Cup, which is currently being
contested for the fifth time.

In its first year in 2004, also in Edmonton, a team from Bulgaria was
refused entry into Canada at the last minute after authorities were
tipped off that members planned to defect.

Officials with the International Baseball Federation refused comment on
the Cuban player Friday night. Earlier in the day, the team won its
first game at the event by beating the Netherlands, 13-5.

In Pequero's only game at the World Cup, she had one hit in two at-bats
in a 12-4 loss to Australia on Aug. 12.

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