The Militant (logo)  
   Vol. 70/No. 3           January 23, 2006  
Washington tries to force Cuban
baseball team out of tournament
WASHINGTON—The International Baseball Federation has threatened to withdraw its backing for the “World Baseball Classic” games if Cuba is excluded. In December Major League Baseball (MLB) and the Players Association, the U.S.-based organizers of the games, were informed that the Bush administration would deny their request for a license to include members of Cuba’s Olympic gold medal baseball team in a preliminary round of the games in March in Puerto Rico—a U.S. colony. The U.S. Treasury Department says that compensation Cuban players would receive for the games would violate Washington’s embargo against Cuba.

The Cuban baseball federation responded by stating it would donate proceeds from the games to those displaced from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

Venezuela’s baseball federation has offered to host the games as an alternative to Puerto Rico, to ensure Cuba’s participation. Puerto Rico’s baseball federation announced its withdrawal from hosting the games to protest the U.S. government’s exclusion of the Cuban players.

International Baseball Federation (IBF) president Aldo Notari, of Italy, said that IBF backing for the games is based on the Olympic charter principles, which prohibit discrimination against a country on grounds of politics, reported the Toronto Sun. The IBF’s stance has put the games in doubt as member countries are expected to not participate if Cuba is excluded or face being banned themselves from future IBF-sanctioned competitions.

The games, billed as the first-ever World Baseball Classic, are an 18-day tournament featuring 16 teams of mostly professional players from North and South America, Asia, Europe, Australia, and Africa. They are to be played March 3-20 in Japan, Puerto Rico, and three U.S. states—Arizona, California, and Florida.

MLB officials have expressed disappointment at the U.S. government’s decision and have reapplied for a license to include Cuba in the games, reported the Miami Herald. Cuba is the reigning Olympic and World Cup champion in baseball. Cuban baseball teams have won 25 of the 36 World Cup tournaments since the games began in 1938.
Related articles:
‘La Gaceta’ takes up fight against racism in Cuba
How Cuba’s support for Angola’s liberation struggle began
The role of women in Cuba’s revolutionary army  
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