Havana (CNN) – On Sunday, Cuban state media criticized nearly a dozen Cuban baseball players who defected in Mexico, in one of the largest and most embarrassing mass defection incidents in the country in years.
Eleven young baseball players defected from the Cuban national team during a tournament for under-23 players that began last month. The remaining Cuban players on the team are due to return to the communist-run island on Monday.
A statement from Cuba’s National Institute for Sports, Physical Education and Recreation (INDER) criticized the missing players for “moral and moral weakness”.
Cuban officials also blamed the United States for restrictions that force Cuban players to defect in order to play in major tournaments.
Usually only players considered to be most loyal to the government are selected to play abroad and are accompanied by government escorts to prevent them from defecting.
Cuba has been hit hard economically during the pandemic with a lack of tourist visits and restrictions on international flights, preventing many Cubans from leaving the island.
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