Cuba offers to donate tournament money

According to Reuters, Cuba said it would donate any money received from World Baseball Classic to Hurricane Katrina victims if the U.S. Government reverses a controversial decision to deny Cuba’s participation.

Fidel Castro had given the go-ahead permission for Cuba to participate the inaugural World Baseball Classic. But Cuba would have needed a special license from the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, which enforces the U.S. economic embargo against Cuba.

The United States Government denied Major League Baseball a license that would allow Cuba to play in the inaugural World Baseball Classic. The decision got protests from the U.S. Olympic Committee, Major League Baseball, numerous politicians and others.

Based on the regulation of tournament, Cuba would get the 1 percent of tournament revenues and 5 percent if it won, that is not allowed by U.S. Treasury Department.

“The Cuban baseball federation, in an effort to find options, would be ready for the money corresponding to its participation in the classic to go to the victims of Hurricane Katrina left homeless in New Orleans,” the federation said in a letter to Major League Baseball.

Cuba labeled the Bush administration as “shameful” and “absurd” and “having nothing to do with sports.”

During second day of regular sessions of the Cuba’s National Assembly, Fidel Castro said that the Bush administration was wrong to deny Cuba to participate World Baseball Classic next spring.

“He is very much a fool,” Castro said of Bush. “He doesn’t know who the Cuban baseball players are, or that they are Olympic and world champions. If he knew, he would know something about this country’s government.”

Antonio Munoz, a businessman who agreed to pay millions of dollars to bring the games to Puerto Rico, thinks the Treasury Department will reverse its decision. “All efforts are being made to get Cuba to come and participate and I think we will succeed,” Munoz said.

Below is the Full Letter of Cuban Baseball to MLB by Prensa Latina translation.

Havana, Cuba, December 14, 2005

Mr. Paul Archey

First Vice President

Major League Baseball, Inc.

New York, USA

Dear Mr. Archey:

This afternoon, Wednesday, December 14, we received a fax from your office informing us that the Office of Foreigner Activities Control (OFAC), in a letter from its director Robert Warner, refused the Cuban National Team´s participation in the World Baseball Classic.

The reasons alleged by the aforementioned office for the refusal are based on those established in the shameful Treasury Department Regulation 31 CFR, part 515, re: control of Cuban Assets.

For any person halfway rational, such a decision is absurd and arbitrary. Rage and political obstinacy make it impossible once again for the world to enjoy a truly representative display of universal baseball.

How can one speak of a World Baseball Classic in which the Cuban Olympic and World Championship team is not represented?

We defend baseball and its significance for our people.

We cannot allow ourselves to be dragged along by the ultraconservatives characterizing the present United States government.

Once again we are open to seek solutions and ways to evaluate possible participation of our team.

It is not for the money that the OFAC puts forward as the motive for our interest in competing. We are a federation from a poor but dignified country; our only plan is to cooperate so that baseball continues developing and achieves inclusion again in the Olympic program in the near future. We never compete for money.

The Cuban Baseball Federation, in order to offer options, would be willing to donate the proceeds corresponding from its participation in the Classic to:

The victims of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.

My dear Mr. Archey, we wish to say that we appreciate the ethical position of the Major League and the Association of Major League Players with respect to the possible participation of Cuba in the Classic.

We will be awaiting your response.

Respectfully.

Carlos Rodriguez Acosta

President

Cuban Baseball Federation

Cuba, a powerhouse of amateur baseball, won the gold medal for baseball at the 1992, 1996 and 2004 Olympics, falling to the United States in the finals at the 2000 Sydney Games.

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