A Cuban baseball player refused to return to the communist country Monday after visiting Miami to play against the United States in the World Baseball Classic.
Iván Prieto González, a catcher who helped Cuban players warm up during the Sunday game, did not show up for his Monday flight back to Havana, choosing to defect from the communist country, according to the Miami Herald.
Several Cuban players have defected over the years during international matches. Eleven players defected during the October 2021 Baseball World Cup in Sonora, Mexico.
The defection comes as the Biden administration looks to strengthen relations with the communist country. Republicans last month pushed back against a planned visit by Cuban officials to America, prompting the Biden administration to shorten the delegation's early March visit.
Republican Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) said allowing such a visit "betrays" the oath Biden took entering office.
"Extending an invitation to Cuban intelligence operatives into sensitive national security facilities in order to share with them our nation’s coastal and maritime security protocols is an egregious dereliction of duty," Rubio said in late February.
Biden's soft approach to Cuba marks a stark difference from the Trump administration, which re-designated the Cuban regime a "state sponsor of terrorism" and banned American flights and cruises from visiting the communist nation, which imprisons political dissidents and censors the internet.
Rubio introduced legislation last week to prevent Cuba and other "sponsors of terrorism" from interacting with U.S. government officials.
"It is beyond comprehension how the Biden Administration could be so naïve. Inviting agents of a designated State Sponsor of Terrorism to tour our security facilities is dumb and dangerous," Rubio said.
Published under: Cuba