DrEscape was ready for a movie. As soon as the team bus to the hotel in West Palm Beach stopped, Cesar Prieto, with all his team gear, seized the opportunity. Cuban ran and ran into a waiting car. Now the Cuban baseball team has lost one of its greatest talents. This is not the first time that Cuban athletes have used an event on American soil to flee.
As a rule, this is based on consultants who want to place their clients in the highly paid Major League Baseball (MLB). With “Elevantes de Cienfuegos” in Cuba, Prieto made a name for himself as a hitter and player. Internationally, he was noticed by a professional audience and talent scouts with a solid performance at the Pan American Games in Lima 2019. The fact that Prieto’s escape was perfectly planned indicates that there is also a concrete plan for his future.
The MLB and the Cuban League already signed an agreement in 2018 that would enable players aged 25 and over or young talent to legally move to the United States for a transfer fee in order to prevent dangerous runaways. In fact, even then, Cuban players had been fleeing to the United States on adventurous ways. But Donald Trump acknowledged the deal again in 2019 as part of a tighter sanctions policy.
The theme of escape is more modern than ever
Cuban MLB star Randy Arrosarina once reported on his experiences while on the run: “When you’re at sea, you just think about it and hope to get there safely.” There are people who have to hold out at sea for days or months. And others who fail and drown.
For Cuba, the Prieto trip is a disgrace. The regime in Havana views the United States as the biggest ideological enemy that it blames on the Caribbean island’s economic woes due to the ongoing US embargo. US President Joe Biden has not yet finalized whether he should resume the process of diplomatic rapprochement that began during Barack Obama’s tenure but ended again by Donald Trump’s successor.
Fleeing from the United States to Cuba is more topical than ever. The US Coast Guard picks up boat refugees nearly every day, and around the same time Britos flew in, authorities reported that a boat sank and at least two Cuban refugees sank in the boats. On the northern Mexican border, thousands of Cuban refugees are also waiting to enter the United States.
The successful escape of such a prominent athlete may stir up even more desires on the island. Like many other Latin American countries, Cuba is experiencing a severe economic crisis, and the lack of tourism in particular has affected the country severely. In addition, there is a gurgling among the residents, there are always slight protests.
The Cuban team is weak
Perhaps that is why the official reaction was so harsh. His decision against the team and its people caused a rejection within the delegation. The Cuban Baseball League wrote that Prieto put himself above the expedition and on his native land.
In fact, Prieto’s decision weakened his team’s chances. The remaining 26 players lost to Venezuela (5:6) and Canada (5:6) in the pre-Olympic tournament, but clearly beat Colombia (16:3). That was only enough for third place in Group B, too little for the final round. In the other group, hosts the United States and the Dominican Republic qualified for the finals.
Only the winner of the tournament is allowed to travel to Tokyo as a representative of America. Cuban baseball fans are divided over the escape. Given the political situation in the country, quite a few people understood Prieto’s behavior, but wished he had led his country to the Olympics in advance. Then there is still time to run in a waiting car.