News / Americas

Cuban Athletes Get Pay Raise, Green Light to Work Abroad

FILE - Cuba's Raciel Iglesias pitches a ball during the last preparation game for the World Baseball Classic (WBC) in Fukuoka, Japan, March 1, 2013. Iglesias failed to show up for training this week and was widely believed to have left the island.
FILE - Cuba's Raciel Iglesias pitches a ball during the last preparation game for the World Baseball Classic (WBC) in Fukuoka, Japan, March 1, 2013. Iglesias failed to show up for training this week and was widely believed to have left the island.
Reuters
— Cuban athletes will be allowed to work abroad and have been granted significant wage increases and larger bonuses for their performance, official media said on Friday, in hopes of stemming a decline in the country's performance in international competitions.
 
The government's decision comes even as athletes, in particular baseball players, are defecting in record numbers, with 21 currently contracted by the U.S. major leagues, some earning multi-million dollar salaries.
 
Just this week, a promising young Cuban pitcher, Raicel Iglesias, 23, failed to show up for training and was widely believed to have left the island, which would make him the latest talented prospect to seek a lucrative Major League Baseball contract in the United States.
 
Cuba's famed boxing team suffered a similar series of defections in recent years, lowering its performance at the Olympics, world championships and other international events.
 
The exodus of athletes is mainly due to wages equivalent to $20 per month, in sharp contrast to their potential earnings abroad.
 
The measure is the latest reform of the Soviet-style system under President Raul Castro, who replaced ailing brother Fidel in 2008 with a call to update the country's economic and social system to the 21st century.
 
“The Council of Ministers deemed just the decision to perfect the compensation system of athletes, trainers and specialists,” Granma, the Communist Party daily, said.  “Other measures will progressively go into effect to update practices so they are more in sync, from our perspective, with the world and thus contribute to achieving better results in sports.”
 
The Cuban government has repeatedly denounced what it calls the theft of its talent, charging it is part of U.S. efforts to undermine socialism and part and parcel of sanctions that do not allow contracts with Cuban athletes who maintain their residence on the island.
 
The new measures, approved by the government last week, allow athletes to sign contracts with professional leagues abroad, breaking with a policy established soon after the 1959 revolution, which shunned professional sports as exploitative.
 
The athletes will still have to “meet their obligations to national teams,” Granma said, including in international competitions, and will have to go through the state's sports institute for approval.
 
It was unclear from the official announcement if the ruling would apply to the Cubans currently playing in the U.S. major leagues.
 
Oakland Athletics outfielder Yoenis CDespedes, winner of this year's Home Run Derby, the popular competition the day before the annual All-Star Game, defected in 2011 and signed a $36 million, four-year contract.
 
Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig, who left Cuba in 2012, signed a seven-year, $42 million contract. Puig made his Major League debut on June 3 and has emerged as one of the top contenders for the Rookie of the Year title.

You May Like

Diplomats Work to Extend Arab-Israeli Cease-Fire

Top officials from the US, France, Britain, Germany, Italy, Turkey and Qatar gather in Paris, while Israel security forces continue searching for tunnels used by militants and Gazan rescue workers search for bodies More

Photogallery US Defense Department Warns of Arms to Eastern Ukraine

‘Imminent’ delivery of Russian rocket launcher poses threat to civilians, US says More

Video Researchers: Africa Genetically Modified Crops Held Back by Scaremongering

GM crops offer best hope of increasing productivity and coping with climate change in Africa, according to co-author of Chatham House report More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid

More Americas News

US Considers Screening Youth in Honduras for Refugee Status

Officials say children could be interviewed before they make dangerous journey to US border, as tens of thousands of children from Central America have done already this year
More

Video President Asks Central American Leaders to Help Stop Migrants

Obama tells presidents of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras it isn't lack of compassion, but obligation to obey immigration laws that is prompting US to turn back many migrants
More

S. Africa Launches Campaign Against US Cuba Sanctions

African National Congress launches the Cuban Solidarity Campaign to work against long-standing sanctions
More

Honduran President Links Border Crisis to US Policy Divide

Human, drug traffickers 'perversely' exploit confusion about US immigration policy, Juan Orlando Hernandez tells reporters on Capitol Hill
More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US
More

House Republicans Present Border Plan for Child Migrant Crisis

Proposal, they say, offers alternative to emergency funding requested by President Obama to deal with massive influx of illegals
More