The possible inclusion of Cuba in the upcoming Caribbean Baseball Series , to be held next year in Margarita Island, Venezuela, has been moved at novel rhythm, c omplex in its plot, and that has kept us in suspense from the very moment that Jose Joaquin Puello (president of CBPC: Spanish acronym of Caribbean Confederation of Professional Baseball) and Higinio Vélez (president of the Cuban Federation of Amateur Baseball –FCBA for its Spanish acronym) announced in June , at a press conference in Havana’s Hotel Nacional , the desired return of Cuba to the regional competition.
Just a few chapters were enough for the protagonists of the saga to find the first hurdle – expected presence or surprise? – o n their way to the happy ending . In early August, the Major League Baseball (MLB) issued a statement that assured the touch of suspense to the story.
In an interesting study published at the end of that month on the Granma newspaper, journalist Aliet Arzola echoed and quoted: MLB, “… is limited to reach any agreement that integrates Cuba as league member without the authorization of the government of the United States.” He also added subsequent statements by Joel Araujo, director of international development of the entity, which reaffirmed that note: “In relation with the possible addition of the Cuban League to the CBPC, under the laws of the United States, we are prohibited from entering into any agreement ensuring the incorporation of a Cuban team without the authorization from the U.S. government.”
These statements bore who was called to take the role of “bad” in the novel. The U.S. government, through the Helms-Burton law and provisions of the OFAC (Office of Foreign Assets Control of the Treasury Department), had in its hands the necessary legal instruments to preclude Cuban longed return to the next Caribbean professional baseball appointment.
The precedents, dozens of examples in all areas of the island, revealed a few encouraging picture . In unison, the presentations in the three World Baseball Classics, kept the optimism of some, among them Jose Joaquin Puello who alluding to it stated: “… we are waiting for the response of MLB, with which we have strong ties, a s we ask that for the Caribbean Series to have the same conditions with which Cuba attends the Classic … “
Let us approach now in time up to one of the last chapters this story has revealed. In an article published last Tuesday in “La opinion deportiva ” (The sports opinion) titled ¨La MLB trabaja para que Cuba juegue¨ (MLB works for Cuba to play ) containing new statements by Dominican Joel Araujo updating us on the plot and suspense levels. I quote: “and we submitted the papers to the State Department … and we are now waiting for the license of rigor. ” and also states: ” We do not have the decision in our hands, but the experience in previous cases, such as the World Baseball Classic, makes us think that there won’t be any problem and that Cuba could play on Margarita Island on February.”
We are then dealing with one of the novel’s climax moments. The “wicked” is ready to deliver judgment and the rest of the characters can do nothing, but wait. It is clear that there is a completely vertical relation where MLB are subject to the will of the U.S. government. A step down, the CBPC confirms its dependence to MLB, quite rebranded as a result of the long and tedious process of signing the Winter League Agreement, which regulates the participation of the players inserted in the universe of U.S. professional baseball in the winter leagues of Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, Mexico and Puerto Rico.
Meanwhile, I consider that Cuba h as already taken an important step in accepting its return to the Caribbean Series. A historical debt with our baseball long deserves to be paid. We are founders of that circuit started in 1949, a tournament we won represented by the club Almendares . Then we added six more titles (1952, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959 and 1960 ), until the new paths followed by the nation brought a total break with professionalism in the sport. Luckily we have begun to rethink the current validity of this long divorce.
It should not take long for we to know the end of this story. Beyond optimistic statements that we are receiving, it seems unlikely the expected return, but if it occurs , there will be the team of Villa Clara that won the last Cuban National Series ready to take on the tough challenge.