Sunday, August 26, 2012


The Calgary Herald reported the story below. I had represented dozens of Cubans who fled due to Castor's Communist policies in the past, when he recalled from the former Soviet Union in 1992.


Two Cuban ballplayers hope to stay in Canada


Team Cuba's pitcher Mabel Cuello gets a hug after being relieved from the game during IBAF Women's Baseball World Cup game action against Team USA at John Fry Park in Edmonton on Wednesday August 15, 2012.

Photograph by: Larry Wong, Edmonton Journal

EDMONTON - Two of the three Cuban players who failed to show up for Sunday’s closing ceremonies at the Women’s Baseball World Cup in Edmonton are hoping to adopt Canada as their new home.
Pitchers Lianni Nieves Rodriguez and Olga Lidia Hernandez Guevara have been in hiding since they went missing and have begun the process of attempting to apply for immigration.
In all, four players bolted from the Cuban women’s national team during the 10-day tournament, including 21-year-old outfielder Odrisleisis Pequero Del Sol, who defected to the United States. There is no information regarding the identity or status of the other player.
Rodriguez and Guevara both come from Ciego de Avila, a hotbed for beisbol in the central part of Cuba, 460 kilometres east of Havana.
A 21-year-old right-hander, Guevara appeared in three games at the Women’s World Cup and was the losing pitcher in an 11-5 defeat by Venezuela. A left-hander, Rodriguez was the winner in Cuba’s only victory of the tournament, 13-5 over the Netherlands on Aug. 17. She celebrated her 22nd birthday in Edmonton on Tuesday, two days after failing to show up at the closing ceremonies.
Cuba finished last among eight teams at the event, which was won by Japan. Team USA won a silver medal, with Canada winning a bronze.
Danielle Vlemmiks, a communications adviser and regional media spokesperson for Citizenship and Immigration Canada, said privacy regulations prohibit the agency from offering comment. In 2011, 219 Cubans filed refugee claims in Canada, with 58 per cent granted status.
Although it has not been unusual for members of the Cuban men’s national team to defect at international tournaments, this is the first time members of its women’s squad have gone missing while playing abroad.
Three players from the junior men’s team defected in Edmonton in 2008, prompting an angry call from Cuban leader Fidel Castro to Ron Hayter, executive director of the Edmonton Baseball Federation. Two of those players — Noel Argüelles and José Iglesias — later signed multimillion dollar contracts with major league teams.
Jen Martinez, an instructor at the Fiesta Cubana Dance School in Edmonton, said it is a difficult for Cubans to make the transition to living in Canada.
“It’s a culture shock,” said Martinez, whose husband, Orlando founded the dance school and is a Cuban immigrant. “There is a language barrier, it is cold, suddenly people have the freedom of choice. It is definitely quite hard if you aren’t prepared for it and don’t have a support system in place.”

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