The annual Little League World Series in South Williamsport, Pennsylvania, is a great show of international competition and sport each August. But, with a coach from Cuba going missing, the tournament is in the spotlight for the wrong reason.
It’s actually the first year a team from Cuba has participated in the Little League World Series. Since Fidel Castro led a communist revolution that took over Cuba in 1959, relations between Cuba and the United States have been strained.
Since the 1960s, Cubans fleeing the country have been given preferential treatment due to the Cuban Adjustment Act. More or less, any Cuban that finds their way to the USA can apply for permanent legal resident status after just one year of being in the country.
Things between have loosened up in recent years, starting with the Obama administration. Some kinds of educational travel is now permitted for Americans to Cuba. But, the two countries still don’t trust each other, considering the USA tried to kill Castro more times than you can count.
Oftentimes, top Cuban ballplayers have defected from the country to play in Major League Baseball, such as Yoenis Cespedes. In recent years, some top Cuban prospects have actually been allowed by the country to play in America, like Yoan Moncada.
That sets a backdrop for what happened on Sunday, when Little League International announced that Cuban Little League Coach Jose Perez went missing from the complex. Here is Pennlive with more details.
Jose Perez left International Grove where all the teams stay late Saturday and did not return, according to a statement from Little League.
The organization stated that it has communicated with all appropriate authorities but would not say if it is considered a defection. Attempts to reach the State Department on Sunday were unsuccessful.
No one can say for sure whether he is defecting, or if something else happens. You can make that inference for yourselves. But, this is sure to become big news quickly.
Cuba was eliminated from the Little League World Series on Sunday, losing 3-2.