Pan American Games: Plan for Cuban athletes who sought asylum in Chile

The seven Cuban hockey players who requested asylum in Chile after participating in the 2023 Pan American Games in Santiago are considering resuming their sporting career in this country, after the “difficult” decision not to return to Cuba.

“We want to stay here and (…) be members of the Diablas team,” the Chilean women’s hockey team said on Friday.

Milan participated with six of his hockey teammates in a training session at the gym in the municipality of Lo Barnechea, in Santiago.

“We would love to get back into sports, be teachers or help some of the kids with academies, go back to school again and then work too.”Geddy Morales said during a conversation with the press.

In addition to the hockey players, runner Joao Ilas, who won the bronze medal in the men’s 400 meters hurdles in Santiago 2023, also stayed in Chile, seeking refuge.

Miguel Bonito, one of the lawyers representing the Cubans, confirmed that the eight athletes already had an eight-month temporary resident visa.

Zorian Hechavarría, Cuban athlete, at the 2023 Pan American Games in Santiago

France Press agency

The authorities will analyze your asylum applications on a case-by-case basis.

The Cuban athletes, who left the island’s delegation on Saturday, November 4, confirmed that the decision was difficult They did so while thinking about “better personal and professional development” in the face of the economic crisis that Cuba is experiencing.

Morales admitted, saying: “It was difficult because we had all been together for many years. We had been through good things, bad things and the coaches. We were all very close, we lived all over the world together.”

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However, Milanes said, “We do feel some peace and that God wants and gives what we all hope for.”

Andy Cruz, a Cuban boxer, in the middle of a fight at the Pan American Games

France Press agency

According to their testimonies, they were already in contact with their families. “Apart from the fact that they miss us, we missed them too. We have been apart for a long time, but they support us in everything,” said Jeddy Morales.

Cuba’s serious economic crisis has caused a mass exodus over the past two years, especially of young people.

Even with the loss of elite athletes, Cuba finished in the top five in the Pan American medal table behind the United States, Brazil, Mexico and Canada.

According to Cuban official figures, from 2022 to date, 187 high-performance Cuban athletes have emigrated, including more than a dozen boxers, including superstar Andy Cruz, considered by many to be the best boxer in the country.

Amber Cross

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