Thursday, February 18, 2016

Cuban water polo players 'defect to US' while in Mexico

Cuban water polo players 'defect to US' while in Mexico
17 February 2016
From the section Latin America & Caribbean

Five members of the Cuba's women's water polo team have defected to the
United States while they were attending a training camp in Mexico,
Mexican media reports say.
It is not clear whether all five are players - one of them may be a coach.
All five are believed to have crossed into the United States.
Their desertion came just days after two Cuban baseball stars, brothers
Yulieski and Lourdes Gurriel, defected while in the Dominican Republic.
Cuba's women's water polo team had been in Monterrey since early
February training for the 2016 Olympic Games qualification tournament,
due to be held in the Netherlands in March.
"It was unexpected," a Mexican sports official told Reforma newspaper.
"Five [of them] left the Olympic village and no one knew anything about
it until members of the team confirmed that they had left for the United
States," the official said.
The team is made up of 13 players.
The remaining players returned to Cuba on Sunday. It is unclear whether
they will be able to compete following the defections.
'Our dream'
Baseball players Yulieski, 31, and Lourdes Gurriel, 22, defected on 8
February while playing for Tigres de Ciego de Avila in the Caribbean
Series in the Dominican Republic.
The two brothers normally play for the Havana Industriales along with a
third brother, Yunieski, but had travelled to the Dominican Republic to
help Tigres de Ciego de Avila.
On Monday, Yulieski Gurriel sent a message to fans from an undisclosed
location in the US.
"We want the fans to know we are fine and working toward our dream," he
told website
"We are ready to play. We hope it's this year. We want to play as soon
as possible."
The two Cuban players said they hoped to join a Major League team soon.
Relations between Cuba and the US have improved markedly since President
Barack Obama and his Cuban counterpart, Raul Castro, announced a thaw in
relations between the two former foes on 17 December 2014.
But athletes have continued to defect, drawn by the sometimes
astronomical salaries they can earn in the US compared to their homeland.

Source: Cuban water polo players 'defect to US' while in Mexico - BBC
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