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.
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.