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

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the US are seeing gas prices dip below $3 a gallon More

Afghan Women's Soccer Team Building for the Future

A four-team female league was recently set up in Kabul; It will help identify players for the national team More

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

Pyongyang threatens nuclear test as joint US, S. Korean exercises show forces’ capabilities More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid

More Americas News

Video Hispanics Welcome Obama Immigration Action, With Reservations

Activists say while president’s action is an important step, a more lasting solution agreed upon by Congress is needed
More

Multimedia Obama to Rally Support for Immigration Overhaul

President to hold campaign-style event aimed at convincing Americans of merits of plan in Las Vegas on Friday
More

Mexicans Hold Rally for Missing Students

Skirmishes outside Mexico City's National Palace marred a mostly peaceful rally attended by thousands of people
More

Bruised Venezuelan Opposition May Make Headway in 2015

Much-touted 're-launch' of Venezuela's opposition in October had poor turnout
More

Accused Colombian Drug Kingpin Admits to US Cocaine Scheme

For second time in two months, Daniel Barrera pleads guilty to federal charges in New York courtroom
More

Mexico's President Discloses $3 Million in Assets

Pushed by scandal over first lady's mansion, Enrique Pena Nieto's makes public value of other assets, including investments, jewelry and art
More