Trump administration ends MLB’s historic deal with Cuba

Trump administration cancels MLB deal with Cuba

The agreement originally was brokered to allow Cubans to play in the United States without defecting and giving up their citizenship.

The letter, obtained by ESPN, underscored the reversal of a President Barack Obama-era policy that meant to soften relations between the US and Cuba.

One sticking point over the deal was that the Obama administration arbitrarily ruled that the Cuban Baseball Federation was somehow an independent organization and not run by the Cuban government.

A list of 34 Cuban players who were to be eligible to play in the MLB had been released by the Cuban Baseball Federation on April 3.

The MLB and Cuba engaged in intense negotiations on a player-transfer deal through the Obama administration's two-year effort to normalize relations with Cuba but the deal was only finalized after Donald Trump took office pledging to roll back Obama's policy.

The existing deal will not be allowed to go forward because it was based on an erroneous ruling by the former Obama administration that the Cuban Baseball Federation was not part of Cuba's Communist government, a senior US official said. The player would also have to pay Cuban income taxes on foreign earnings.

By barring the payments, it appears to make the deal unworkable.

Ben Rhodes, the official from Obama's National Security Council who led the U.S. -Cuba relations restoration, called the new approach by the White House "cruel" and said it "serves no goal".

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"The objective is to end the risky trafficking of Cuban baseball players who desire to play professional baseball in the United States", the MLB said.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who was opposed to the Major League Baseball deal, said it legalized the trafficking of the players.

Under the deal, Major League Baseball teams could have signed Cuban players who met requirements of age and professional playing service. It's definitely hard for a lot of Cuban players who are not playing at this level here in the States.

In the letter, which was made public Monday afternoon, the Treasury Department told MLB that the payments to the Cuban Baseball Federation constituted illegal business with the Cuban government.

Chapman defected from Cuba in 2009 while with the Cuban national baseball team in Rotterdam, Netherlands, and signed with the Reds in 2010.

Cincinnati Reds outfielder Yasiel Puig, Chicago White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu and New York Mets outfielder Yoenis Cespedes are among the top Cuban players now in the Major League Baseball.

On Friday, the Trump administration blocked the agreement from materializing. "But the way we got here, it was tough - to say the least". It's definitely hard for a lot of Cuban players who are not playing at this level here in the States.

"It's a humanitarian issue for these Cuban players and their families", Rhodes said. It really doesn't affect us here.

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