First and foremost, I am not Cuban. I’ve never been to Cuba; and I don’t know the plight that many say they undergo everyday under Fidel Castro’s regime.

What I know about what some émigrés go through, especially baseball players that defect, is what I hear from the American and Latin-American press. Reports of players obtaining Mexican, Nicaraguan or Colombian nationality to be able to enter the United States legally are not uncommon.


Cuban players are, after all, highly sought commodities in this Baseball Marketplace, and many will go far beyond what may seem as typical transactions to obtain the services of such players.

The wet-foot, dry-foot policy that the U.S. maintains towards Cubans has forced many to risk their lives, launching themselves aboard makeshift boats in hopes of reaching American soil, where, if they set foot as a result of their own power and will, they’ll get a chance to stay legally.

The trick is getting to terra firma before the Coast Guard catches you. Or before the government discovers that you’re part of a alleged plot to smuggle your own family out of Cuba.

As the L.A. Times reports:

Contreras implicated in smuggling case

By Kevin Baxter

April 11, 2007

KEY WEST, FLA. — Chicago White Sox pitcher Jose Contreras pledged $200,000 to finance the smuggling operation that brought his wife and two daughters to Florida from Cuba in June 2004, one of the men involved in planning the trip said in court Tuesday.

Geoffrey Rodrigues, a convicted felon who admitted to participating in two smuggling operations in 2004, testified in federal court that he received $5,000 for recruiting a housemate, Edward Hernandez, to co-pilot the boat that brought Miriam Murillo, the couple’s children and seven other friends and relatives to the U.S. Hernandez and Roberto Yosvany, the other pilot, split another $65,000, Rodrigues said, adding that he didn’t know whether Contreras ever paid the full $200,000.

Jaime L. Torres, the pitcher’s Miami agent, did not respond to calls Tuesday.

I can only think of what ramifications this may have for the White Sox pitcher. If the authorities believe what Rodrigues is saying, Contreras will face, at least, charges brought upon by Federal agents. His family may be in jeopardy of being deported back to Cuba.

Although first thought of as rumor and speculation, Contrera’s involvement in the case has taken a toll on his performance, as evidenced during opening day. He did rebound for his last start, but performance on the field becomes almost an afterthought after learning about this case.

Los pensamientos de la fanáticada están contigo y con tu familia, José.

2 Responses to “Defection is a double-edged sword”

  1. Nick Kapur says:

    Nice post, Alejandro. I wish we would just get on with our world and start dealing with Cuba in a rational fashion.

    I mean, seriously, how long ago was it that the Cold War ended, now?

  2. Coley Ward says:

    Contreras’ inconsistencies early in his MLB career were attributed to nervousness over his family’s situation. Once the successfully defected, he started pitching better.

    How much of Contreras’ current struggles are mental and how much are a result of him being really, really old is anybody’s guess.

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