MLB's Deal With Cuba Is A Foul Ball For Republicans

Speaker of the House Marco Rubio, R-Miami, speaks at a news conference regarding the property tax issue, Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2007, in Tallahassee, Fla. AP Photo/Phil Coale)

If anyone has the moral authority to criticize Major League Baseball’s (MLB) new deal with Cuba, in which the Cuban Baseball Federation (FCB) takes a cut of Cuban players’ salaries for the “favor” of letting them play in the U.S., it’s Florida Senator Marco Rubio (R).


The Senator’s parents emigrated from Cuba and Rubio is a vocal and strident critic of the Castro regime there. And he has no love for the new deal between MLB and FCB, taking to twitter Thursday to voice his concerns that the deal essentially pays the communist government of Cuba to the detriment of the players who seek to earn a living using their talent.


The National Review piece Rubio links describes the deal this way:

[B]aseball owners have negotiated a deal with the FCB, the Cuban Baseball Federation, in which they bribe the Cuban regime with part of a player’s salary. And they’re asking the Trump administration to sign off on this plan by granting an exception to the Cuban embargo.

The FCB is, like everything else in Cuba, a cat’s-paw for the regime; money paid to it is entirely at the disposal of the regime because there are no truly independent institutions in a Communist country. The vice president of the FCB has for years been none other than Fidel Castro’s son Antonio Castro Soto.

NR also provides information originally published in Sports Illustrated to flesh out the details:

MLB teams will need to pay the FCB for the contractual release of players who are 24 years old or younger and who have five or fewer years of service. The fee will reflect 25% of the signing bonus. It will be up to the FCB to decide whether to release such a player. In contrast, MLB teams will be able to sign Cuban players who are 25 or older and who have at least six years of experience in FCB without the consent of the FCB (MLB teams will, however, need to pay the FCB 15% to 20% of the total value of those players’ contracts).

The path to this agreement was paved by the Obama administration, whose Treasury Department gave MLB special dispensation to go around the embargo and negotiate the deal. MLB owners have expressed support for the deal by indicating they believe it benefits Cuban players who will not be forced on treacherous escape trips to enter the U.S.


The Trump administration, citing humanitarian concerns, has a different view of the deal, however. Their concern, via a senior administration official shortly after MLB announced the deal, is that the deal would “would institutionalize a system by which a Cuban body garnishes the wages of hard-working athletes who simply seek to live and compete in a free society.”

“We do not condone the actions of any person or entity that contribute to the violation of human rights of Cuban citizens and the Cuban regime’s schemes to profit from the labor of its people abroad while keeping them in thrall to an oppressive political system,” an administration official told the Washington Post.


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