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Cuban sporting stars defect to Dominican Republic

Cuba’s top baseball star Yulieski Gourriel and his brother Lourdes apparently went missing before dawn on Monday, 8 February 2016 after playing in the Caribbean Series that took place in Santo Domingo.

It appears that they left their hotel at 2am in a black SUV with Armed Forces number plates, according to one witness. As reported, one of the Cuban security officers tried to stop them but failed, and then the Cuban ambassador arrived looking for an explanation and the Cuban sporting authorities contacted the Dominican police to try and find them.

Yulieski, 31, is one of Cuban baseball players most sought after by the Major League teams in the United States since he played in the first World Baseball Classic in 2006. His defection in Santo Domingo, nevertheless, is said to have come as a surprise.

Twenty-two year old Lourdes, the youngest member of the family, is also a successful baseball player.

Cuban and US authorities are working on an arrangement that would allow Cuban baseball players to sign with Major League clubs without breaking the law, but this is still not allowed despite the improvement in US-Cuban relations. The commercial embargo has not yet been lifted.

In the past, Cuban players have established residency in the Dominican Republic and then signed contracts to play in Major League Baseball.

Source: DR1, Elcaribe

Feb 9, 2016

UPDATE: Air Force officer suspected of helping Cuban ballplayers defect

A Dominican Air Force officer is suspected of helping two Cuban baseball players, brothers Yulieski, 31 and 22-year old Lourdes Gourriel, to defect during their visit in the Dominican Republic. The brothers were playing in the Caribbean Series where their team finished in fourth place with four losses and one win. According to witnesses, the ballplayers left their hotel at around 2am on Sunday, 7 February 2016 accompanied by the military officer in a vehicle with Air Force license plates.

Dominican Air Force spokesman Colonel Fernandez Hernandez confirmed that an investigation is underway into officer William or Wilson Solis who is linked to the Cuban ball players’ escape. He is said to work in the Air Force sports department. The Air Force says he could be dismissed and charged with people smuggling. The Cuban Embassy has accused Solis of being the contact for the two ballplayers.

The authorities suspect that the two ballplayers have since left the country by crossing the Haitian border.

A few days before the two men fled, Cuban baseball director Humberto Suarez, in charge of the Tigres de Ciego de Avila team, complained that scouts had been contacting the ballplayers.

Source: DR1, Eldia

Feb 13, 2016

Category: DR News |

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Last updated October 20, 2016 at 7:03 PM
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