The White House Wants To Stop Human Trafficking By Getting Baseball
Players From Cuba
BY SAMANTHA PAGE DEC 24, 2015 11:34 AM
As relations between Cuba and the United States warm up, Major League
Baseball is hoping to avoid human trafficking of potential players by
dealing directly with the communist government.
MLB has asked the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control
to allow MLB to sign players directly, much in the same way the league
acquires players from Japan, Reuters reported Wednesday.
"There's a willingness on the part of our government to end the
trafficking. The White House has been very sympathetic to helping us end
some of the abusive practices," MLB Chief Legal Officer Dan Halem said.
An estimated 130 baseball players leave Cuba each year, seeking
opportunity to play elsewhere. Horror stories abound — including that of
Leonys Martin, a Seattle Mariners outfielder who was reportedly held
hostage in Mexico for months before promising to pay his captors a
portion of his salary. Martin did not keep that pledge, and when the
smugglers attempted to sue him, they found themselves facing criminal
"It's not an uncommon story," Martin's lawyer, Paul Minoff, told Reuters.
Unfortunately, many stories do not end with $15.5-million, five-year
contracts. For every Yasiel Puig, there are dozens of players — and
ordinary Cubans — who are not so lucky. A U.S. policy to repatriate
Cuban refugees who arrive by boat has encouraged an overland route
through Mexico, where they face kidnapping and extortion.
As long as the Cuban economy and standard of living struggle, this is
likely to continue. Some 55 percent of Cubans want to leave the island,
and more than half of them want to come to the United States.
Cuba has been under a U.S. embargo since 1960. But under the Obama
administration, relations between the two countries have improved. In
July, Cuba's mission to Washington, D.C. was upgraded to an embassy.
"This is historic," Jaime Torres, an agent who represents Cuban players,
told MLB.com last year, when new diplomatic relations were announced. "I
think we have to look at the changes that are made and how they will be
implemented, but I could see this being as important in the history of
baseball as the signing of Minnie Minoso and making it to the big
leagues as the first black Hispanic in the big leagues. He was Cuban.
This is progress."
Source: The White House Wants To Stop Human Trafficking By Getting
Baseball Players From Cuba | ThinkProgress -