On The Bench: The MLB should be able to sign Cuban players

On April 9, the Trump administration cancelled a Dec. deal between Cuba and the U.S. that allowed the MLB to sign Cuban baseball players. The administration argued that the Cuban Baseball Federation is part of the Cuban government, which means that this deal was illegal due to the trade ban with Cuba.

The United States has every right to issue sanctions against Cuba, especially with trade and anything else that could negatively affect the U.S. economy or other protections. However, I wouldn’t exactly consider this a part of the trade ban. Immigration maybe, but I wouldn’t say this is trade unless you mean in terms of teams the player belongs to. Yes, the player is trading it’s team but I wouldn’t say a person falls under the classification of an agricultural good or medical and chemical product which were a part of the top export categories before the ban according to Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.

Moving on from this, the point of this deal was to try and limit or stop human trafficking to the United States in hopes that this ban would encourage Cuban baseball players to take the legal route to play in the United States. In the past, players would take risks to escape Cuba and pay smugglers to get them to the United States and revoke their cuban citizenship. According to the Washington Post, this deal proposed that the U.S. baseball clubs would pay a fee to the Cuban Baseball Federation to release them from their contract and take them to the United States to play for the U.S clubs legally instead of the dangerous ways as before. But the administration argues that these payments are illegal under U.S. sanctions since the federation is part of the Cuban government. I think this is all just a little too political and clouding a lot of sound judgement that should be made in this deal. Yes, the U.S. has imposed sanctions on Cuba, that is clear. But these sanctions including trade don’t exactly count when it comes to people leaving that country when they are willing to be released from their contracts with the CBF to play in the U.S. If administration really sees this as a trade then as with international law, the U.S. should compensate the CBF as a business entity of the Cuban government if it is seen as that way. That is exactly what these MLB teams were doing. They were releasing these players from these contracts while compensating the CBF for the “taking of its property”.

I feel this deal could have done a lot of good in possibly eliminating avenues of human trafficking which this administration claims to be against, and also provided a way for the MLB to gain new and talented players into the league while also helping cuban players to realize their dreams of playing in the United States Major League Baseball. This is a complicated issue to say the least with a lot of political opinions really pushing the issue of the legality of sports interfering with sanctions. Overall, I feel it should be looked at on a case by case basis and in this case, the good ways out the harm in this deal.

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