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Jose Contreras goes home

Jan 29, 2013, 3:30 PM EDT

contreras throws getty wide Getty Images

Jose Contreras defected from Cuba in 2002 while playing a game in Mexico. When he did that, and especially after signing a $32 million contract with the New York Yankees, he became persona non grata in Cuba.  He, like all other defectors, were barred from returning home and labeled traitors.

But a change in Cuban law that went into effect last month allow defectors to return to Cuba to visit and eases restrictions on the comings and goings of residents.  Contreras was the first big name athlete to take advantage of that law and recently returned home for the first time in a decade.

CNN has the story, with some emotional words from Contreras himself.

While the money and fame obviously make the decision of athletes who defect an understandable one, it’s hard to imagine how they live for years, even decades, without meaningful contact with their family.  Here’s hoping we’ve seen the end of those days.

  1. Joe - Jan 29, 2013 at 3:44 PM

    The movie about Luis Tiant’s return to Cuba was very moving. Different situation, because left in the 1950’s before the revolution and was advised not to go back. He spent decades away from home.

  2. Old Gator - Jan 29, 2013 at 3:44 PM

    Here’s hoping we’ve seen the end of our arrogant, bullying, bottomlessly futile Cuba policy – embargo and all – period. Obama, you’ve got no more elections to face. Let your testicles drop and put an end to this half-century of rank, pointless stupidity already.

    • unclemosesgreen - Jan 29, 2013 at 3:59 PM

      My wife and I visited Key West last year, and had a “Cuba-moment” on the beach. Overwhelmed with the feeling of how close it was, and how profoundly wrong and outdated our Cuba policy has become. It’s as if time randomly stopped 90 miles to the South-Southeast of that spot on the beach.

      At best, our Cuba policy is a chronosynclastic infundibulum. It may require Trafalmadorian intervention to straighten it all out.

      Which, of course, brings us back to Salo.

      • badintent - Jan 29, 2013 at 6:54 PM

        We’v e all been to Key West and seen the sign too. Me and the good old boys rented a boat and went out for some scuba diving. We were told to keep it close and stay away from Cuba patrol boats. We did. BUT THAT NASTY ASS BARRACUDA SCARED THE HELLL OUT OF US !
        The average cuban makes $19 a month . Bring a couple bars of perfumed soap and some shampoo for gifts for the friendly “beach hostessess” you meet . They’ll te gusta mucho En la cama toda la noche. Que bueno.

  3. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Jan 29, 2013 at 4:03 PM

    Come on, it has only been 50 years. Let’s let this embargo thing play out for a little bit and see what happens.


  4. unlost1 - Jan 29, 2013 at 4:35 PM

    you would think they could communicate through the world wide web

  5. tfbuckfutter - Jan 29, 2013 at 5:55 PM

    I’m not sure why he would want to go home after being an eye-witness to Castro’s rise to power.

    • Old Gator - Jan 29, 2013 at 8:25 PM

      Because Cubans love their land – their soil, their foliage, the neighborhoods or little villages where they grew up, the families and friends and music they left behind, the home-grown food that doesn’t really quite taste the same here, you name it. American right-wingers, including exile right wingers – who are no longer a clear majority of Cuban-Americans and a minority of second and third generation Cuban-Americans – and the political puppeteers who try to exploit their anger and frustration only see Castro. The older ones only see “Communism” or “Socialism” and a conversation with many of them will quickly reveal that they really don’t even understand the difference between the two. The rest of exiled Cubans – like Contreras – carry the entire country in their hearts and can and do love it for what it has been, is, and will be again long after Castro is just a rancid memory.

      • jimeejohnson - Jan 29, 2013 at 8:47 PM

        Great post.

      • tfbuckfutter - Jan 29, 2013 at 9:22 PM


        That was a “Jose Contreras was alive in the 50s” joke.


    • Old Gator - Jan 29, 2013 at 10:22 PM

      After all the thinly disguised Cuban driver jokes I’ve told here over the years, I feel entitled to a little poetic license.

  6. hojo20 - Jan 29, 2013 at 6:45 PM

    He could’ve swam there if he wanted to visit to badly.

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