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MLB’s Black Cuban Prospects Pay For Trump’s Obama Obsession

Trump’s MAGA madness cancels MLB’s historic deal that allows Cuban players to be signed without defecting.

President Donald Trump continues his obsessive campaign to dismantle and reverse every bit of progressive legislation Barack Obama ever initiated. This time, it’s at the expense of MLB and the talented players of Cuba. The situation is flying under the radar, but it’s a glaring example of the difference between the Trump and Obama administrations.

The White House has decided to cancel a December deal between Major League Baseball, it’s players’ association and the Cuban Baseball Federation that would allow players from the island to sign big league contracts without risking their lives defecting, in an effort to eliminate the dangerous trafficking that has run rampant for decades.

It was a glorious moment for Cubans. It showed the kindness of a country, the social commitment and sensitivity of MLB and the heart of a President who believed in building bridges, rather than seeking and destroying.

The U.S. Department of Treasury signed off on the deal at the time.  In a strange twist of  events, according to reports, “the Trump administration has now decided that the baseball federation is too closely aligned with the Cuban sports ministry.”

Trump argued that the Cuban Baseball Federation was part of the Cuban government, which caused the deal to be nullified because trade with Cuba is currently banned. This is a change from Barack Obama-era policy that decided the two were separate.

“Major League Baseball has been informed of the dangers of dealing with Cuba,” a senior administration official said, per Carol E. Lee and Josh Lederman of NBC Sports.

The initial deal was expected to run through October 2021 and Cuban players over 25 years old would be able to sign with any MLB organization that paid a “release fee” to their Cuban club. Trump not only squashed an opportunity for Cubans to rise out of U.S. inflicted poverty, but he inhumanely closed the door on diplomatic relations with the Cuban people. He would rather entertain the South Koreans than continue along the noble path laid by his lauded predecessor.

With the support of President Obama, in 2014 the United States and the government of Cuba had agreed to resume diplomatic relations for the first time since the Cuban Revolution (1953-1959). It was a powerful step forward for two nations that have been at political and financial odds for over half a century.

The U.S. government has tried to isolate Cuba economically in an effort to destroy the late Fidel Castro’s regime and deprive the country of vital resources. Since 1960, Americans have been barred from trading with, investing in, or traveling to Cuba. Initially, the embargo was no more than a thorn in Castro’s side and an inhibitor to Cuban talent moving through the MLB pipeline.

But all that changed with the fall of Soviet communism. Today, after losing billions in annual economic aid from its former sponsor, Cuba is a poor, dysfunctional and isolated nation of about 11 million. The spirit of the country and the proud people who inhabit it and have escaped it, however, remains alive.

Past Presidents have taken pride in suppressing Castro’s arrogance and unwillingness to bow down to the rulers of the free world. However, in keeping with his 2008 campaign theme of “Change” President Obama, who announced the beginning of normalized relations with Cuba in December 2014, made history.

In 2015, U.S. and Cuban officials announced they had agreed to terms on the normalization of relations between the two nations, with mutual embassies and diplomatic missions opening in each country.

MLB Baseball In Cuba 

On March 22, 2016, the Tampa Bay Rays played the Cuban national team at Estadio Latinoamericano in Havana. The historical game was broadcast by ESPN and ESPN Deportes. The Rays were the first team to play in Cuba since the Baltimore Orioles in 1999. According to ESPN, they were also the first US team to play in Havana, Cuba in the late 1950s.

Castro died that same year, but the game was a sign of optimism that the US would eventually drop its trade embargo. Trump became President and now it is like those great moments in history never happened.

Tony Clark, executive director for the MLB Players Association, said the goal was to create a “safe, legal process for entry to our system” instead of defecting to the country while potentially using traffickers.”

The U.S. Department of Treasury signed off on the deal at the time.

However, the Trump administration has now decided that the baseball federation is too closely aligned with the Cuban sports ministry. This is a change from Barack Obama-era policy that decided the two were separate.

“Major League Baseball has been informed of the dangers of dealing with Cuba,” a senior administration official said, per Carol E. Lee and Josh Lederman of NBC Sports.

Talk about a roller coaster of emotions. MLB teams were given a list of 34 eligible players from Cuba earlier this month. It’s torturous for a Cuban ballplayer and his family to find out that their only hopes of becoming Yasiel Puig, Aroldis Chapman or Jose Abreu will once again depend on a treacherous and dangerous journey of defection from Cuba to the U.S.

This latest move by Trump is nothing but a fastball to the head of MLB and Cuban citizens. People of color lose again under the oppression of another Trump MAGA movement.

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