Cuba: Robeisy Ramírez, a new runaway in boxing

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Cuban athletes stand out in each sporting event, both for their achievements and abilities and for their constant defections

Cuba: Robeisy Ramírez, a new case of talent drain in sports

The Cuban athlete Robeisy Ramírez abandoned his team that is preparing in Mexico, on the eve of the 23rd Central American and Caribbean Games 2018 to be held in Barranquilla. According to El Universal de México, the athlete is a true star of the Cuban team, he won a gold medal for his country at the Olympic Games in London in 2012 and Rio in 2016, which is a great loss for the delegation. In the same article, the newspaper reports that the Cuban boxing team will only carry seven athletes out of the ten that were considered.

Leer en español: Cuba: Robeisy Ramírez, un nuevo caso de fuga de talento en boxeo

According to ESPN, Ramírez has a solid track record as a champion of the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara and the 2014 Central American Games in Veracruz, as well as the aforementioned Olympic medals. A few weeks ago, the Cuban athlete had achieved in Tijuana his classification for Barranquilla, when another member of the team, Yosvany Argilagos, also defected. The CiberCuba site noted that Argilagos tried to enter the United States, but his access was denied so he is still in Mexico.

These are just two examples which will add to the long list of Cuban athletes who take advantage of trips abroad to separate themselves from their delegations. The reasons are several, but the main one is the search for better living conditions as athletes. Due to the political and economic conditions of the island, Cuban athletes are limited compared to those of other nearby countries such as Latin Americans and the difference is more radical compared to their American neighbors. El Universal affirms that in 2013, former President Raúl Castro authorized the hiring of Cuban boxers abroad, in addition to the salary improvement for those who remained in the country. Despite this, defections have not stopped in this and other sports.

In Rio 2016 a total of 11 medals were won, of which six come from boxing, three of which are gold medals. Although it has declined worldwide, in Latin America it remains as a competitive country. According to ESPN, for example, in the Central Americans of 2014, Cuba won the medal count above the host Mexico and above Colombia, so in 2018 it will fight to be in the top again.


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What is the course to be followed after leaving their teams?

Until a few years ago the main goal after leaving their teams was to be able to aspire to reach the United States, where in addition to sporting development the conditions for an athlete are better, including high salaries. However, changes in U.S. immigration policies have made migration difficult for Cubans. First, during the presidency of Barack Obama the policy "wet feet, dry feet" was ended, according to the BBC. Now, the harsh policy of Donald Trump and the new rules in the migration policies of the Cuban government have transformed the situation.

El Diario of Cuba interviewed Alberto Cuba, a former Cuban athlete who won the 1991 Pan American Marathon. In 2015, Cuba decided to defect while he was in the Netherlands on a sports mission. For the Cuban, the conditions in his country deteriorated to such an extent that he did not have the equipment and the proper diet to compete. "I asked for political asylum in the Netherlands (in 2015) and I stayed to live here. I was on a sports mission, but I did not want to be a slave of these times. Too many injustices are committed with coaches and athletes who are traveling or on sporting missions, there is a lot of pressure, the leaders are always watching you, you have to inform everything, if you go somewhere, if you talk to an American, and those things," he told the newspaper.

"I have never regretted the step I took, I think differently here, I see different things and I am not a slave to anyone, I feel a totally free man, although I will always be grateful for the opportunity I had to represent my country at some point," he added in the interview, as a sign of the thinking of many Cuban athletes who seek better living conditions that allow them to compete. The changes experienced by Cuba has not yet lived up to the needs of its athletes, so El Diario of Cuba predicts a loss of several medals in Barranquilla because of this reality that lives the sport of the island.


LatinAmerican Post | Luis Angel Hernández Liborio

Translated from "Cuba: Robeisy Ramírez, un nuevo caso de fuga de talento deportivo"