Today in Latin America
Top Story — The Cuban government may lift restrictions on baseball players signing contracts abroad, ending five decades of self-imposed tradition.
The Cuban Federation of Baseball is thinking about a proposal that would permit Cuban players to join professional leagues in other countries. The idea first surfaced at the 17th International Cup in Taipei, where Federation vice president and son of Cuban leader Fidel Castro, Antonio Castro brought up the proposal to members of the Cuban delegation.
“Many rumors had been heard about Cuba looking for some sort of deal with professional circuits,” said Carlos Pérez, president of Miami Sports Consulting, an agency that represents several Caribbean players, according to The Miami Herald. “But we’d have to wait and see if this will work out or if it’s just another idea dead on arrival.”
ESPN Deportes columnist Enrique Rojas reported on the proposal back in September, where he cited a “source close to Cuban baseball authorities,” and said he expected the news to be denied by government officials.
The Cuban national team and league have suffered a dissipation in talent over the last few decades due to players defecting to play on Major League Baseball (MLB) teams in the United States. Even if the Cuban government allowed its players to sign contracts in the United States, the decades-old embargo would make financial transactions with Cuba difficult.
Earlier this month, one of Cuba’s most promising prospects, 17-year-old Yasiel Balaguer left the country for Nicaragua where he plans to become a free agent and make it to the Major Leagues. A natural baserunner and extraordinary defensive player, Balaguer was a starter in the latest Cuban team that played in the World Junior Baseball Championship in Ontario, Canada.
Headlines from the Western Hemisphere
- A referendum proposal on a law banning immigrants from the workplace and mandating police checks was announced in California on Tuesday.
- A poll released Tuesday said that 49 percent of the Mexican public considers President Felipe Calderón’s offensive against drug cartels a failure.
- The case against U.S. contractor Alan Gross continues to move forward “without difficulty,” Cuba’s Attorney General Darío Delgado said Tuesday. Gross was imprisoned under accusations of spying nearly a year ago, but does not yet face formal charges (link in Spanish).
- Haiti’s cholera epidemic is spreading twice as fast as authorities expected and will likely result in hundreds of thousands of cases in the coming months, the United Nations said.
- A Spanish judge Tuesday ordered a former Guatemalan interior minister be freed because authorities in the Central American country failed to request his extradition on charges he ordered the extra-judicial execution of seven inmates.
- The United States should provide more money to fight drug trafficking in Central America instead of focusing aid dollars only on neighboring Mexico, a top Guatemalan official said.
- If El Salvador switches its diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China it will have an “extremely negative” impact on ties between Taipei and Beijing, a senior Taiwanese official said Tuesday.
- The project to integrate the Chilean, Peruvian and Colombian stock exchanges is an important “first step” toward creating a larger equity market in Latin America, but it is unclear whether investors will be enticed to enter this new market, local brokerage firm BCI corredores de Bolsa general manager Ricardo Victorero said Tuesday.
- A war of words that has erupted between Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez and Guillermo Zuloaga, the fugitive owner of Venezuela’s last remaining opposition television station, might be a prelude to the government shutting down the station, a leading opposition media voice warned.
- Five oil companies operating in Ecuador agreed to new service deals on Tuesday, leaving Brazil’s Petrobras as the only large operator to reject contracts aimed at increasing state petroleum revenues.
- Police backed by federal troops raided twenty of Rio de Janeiro’s favelas in a coordinated effort Tuesday, arresting at least eleven people and killing two suspected drug traffickers.
- A bus-truck accident 70 kilometers west of Santiago killed nineteen people and injured 22 on Tuesday.
- The Argentine government has purchased 43 wind turbines from Denmark for wind farms in Patagonia that should be operational by 2012.
Image: m. for matthijs @ Flickr.