Big League Pitcher Contreras Visiting Cuba

January 24, 2013 | Print Print |
Jose Ariel Contreras when he pitched for Pinar del Rio in the Cuban league.

Jose Ariel Contreras when he pitched for Pinar del Rio in the Cuban league.

Jose Ariel Contreras in the Major Leagues.

Jose Ariel Contreras in the Major Leagues.

HAVANA TIMES — Cuban major league pitcher Jose Ariel Contreras arrived in Cuba on Saturday to see his mother, who is hospitalized in Havana following a leg amputation.

“The trip is a purely humanitarian issue, and I’m glad he has been able to see his mother, because his father died in 2003 without him being able to see him again,” said Orlando Chinea, the pitcher’s personal trainer.

Contreras, 41, said he had no problems entering the country, but declined to give statements, saying he was on a personal trip, according to the article from the Café Fuerte website.

Residents of the town of San Juan y Martinez, in Pinar del Rio Province, said Contreras stopped by the local park and talked with residents who were gathered there.

Contreras is the first “defecting” athlete to visit Cuba since the country’s new immigration reforms took effect earlier this month. For more than 10 years the pitcher has lived outside of Cuba, where he was considered an all-time idol of Cuban baseball.

 


What's your opinion?

  • Griffin

    It would be wonderful if players like Jose Contreras could play for the Cuban national team in competitions like the World Baseball Classic or even the Olympics.

    Same day soon?

    • Moses Patterson

      It has never made sense to me why a Cuban professor can teach at Harvard and retain his Cuban citizenship, or a singer perform in Miami, or perform a ballet dancer in NYC, but a Cuban baseball player could not play for the Yankees and be allowed to return to Cuba. Imagine all the unnecessary hardship suffered over the years by these talented Cubans related to not being able to visit sick family or attend weddings, etc. Sadly, the only reason the Castros are allowing exiles to return now is because of the hard currency they hope the exiles will bring. There is nothing altruistic about these reforms.

      • luis segui

        Moses, the cruel USA/Cuba embargo is an act of war! USA is a bully over tiny Cuba. You act as if Cuba exists in a fair world and Fidel just ruined everything! Get educated! Look into Freedom of Information Act. 50 years of CIA covert terrorism against Cuba!

        • Griffin

          luis segui,

          I am quite aware of US covert operations against Cuba. I am also familiar with Cuban covert operations against the US, a fact often ignored by Castro’s apologists. It is a sad fact that a state of hostility exists between the two countries, but do keep in mind that both sides contribute to the conflict.

          It is the Cuban government that prevents Cuban baseball players who play in the MLB from playing on the Cuban national team in events like the World Baseball Classic. This is just one more example of the internal embargo the Cuban government maintains against the Cuban people.

          I am glad to see that the recent changes introduced by Obama now allow Cuban-American US residents, like Jose Contreras, to return to Cuba to visit his family. But as Moses pointed out, the Cuban authorities allow the visit not for humanitarian reasons, but to get hard currency from the visitors.

        • Moses Patterson

          luis segui, please answer my question. Let’s assume everything you just wrote is true. I don’t agree but whatever. Why can’t Cuban ballplayers in the US play for the Cuban national team. Where’s the harm?

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=2066640 Henry Louis Gomez

          Talk about a non-sequitur. Cuba restricts its citizens from coming and going in clear contravention of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. What the hell does that have to do with the embargo? Nothing.

  • Moses Patterson

    Cuban hardliners please note: the world did not end nor did the visit of a successful Cuban athlete cause the undoing of 54 years of Castro’s revolution. Why did it take so long to get to this point? I hope Gloria Estefan or Carlos Alberto Montaner decide to return to the country of their birth. I am excited for those Cubans who have been prevented from seeing loved ones in Cuba simply because of the unfounded paranoia of the Castro regime.

  • bjmack

    Truly a heart wrenching story. The changes sweeping Cuba allowing this great ballplayer the chance to return home is brilliant!