Politics Pave Way for Cuba

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), January 21, 2006 | Go to article overview

Politics Pave Way for Cuba


Byline: Thom Loverro, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

So isn't this nice - the Cuban government is going to donate any profits its baseball team receives from playing in the World Baseball Classic to the victims of Hurricane Katrina, which apparently makes it OK for Cuba to come to America to play in the inaugural tournament.

What a heartwarming story. I wonder if we will see it on CNN some night - the joy on the faces of all those Katrina victims as they get some crumbs by way of Fidel Castro.

They should feel just like the residents of Cuba.

After initially denying Cuba in its effort to come to the United States to play in the event, based on the embargo against Cuba, the Treasury Department yesterday granted the necessary license. Major League Baseball and the player's association had filed a request, with the Katrina-related offer added.

"The president wanted to see it resolved in a positive way," White House spokesman Scott McClellan told the Associated Press in an e-mail. "Our concerns were centered on making sure that no money was going to the Castro regime and that the World Baseball Classic would not be misused by the regime for spying. We believe the concerns have been addressed."

You have to wonder about the connections between Major League Baseball and one of its former owners now residing at the White House - President George W. Bush, who once ran the Texas Rangers - and how that played a role in the decision to grant Cuba the license.

Baseball was facing a huge international embarrassment if Cuba was kept out of the tournament. Officials from the Baseball Federation of Puerto Rico, one of the venues for the tournament, had said they would not play host if Cuba was not included. And the International Baseball Federation, the sanctioning body of the tournament, had threatened to pull its sanction, leaving baseball's first World Baseball Classic in danger of falling apart.

It was likely no accident that baseball kicked off its promotion of the tournament this week in Washington, at the residence of the Japanese ambassador to the United States. And President Bush's former partner with the Rangers, Thomas Schieffer, now the U.S. ambassador to Japan, was front and center Tuesday night at the ceremony, which featured legendary home run kings Hank Aaron and Sadaharu Oh.

And U.S. Olympic Committee chairman Peter Ueberroth was pressuring the Bush administration to reverse its decision on Cuba, because it would hurt future efforts by American cities to hold the Olympics - as if that were a bad thing. …

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