Cuban Baseball Player Still Missing
May. 08, 2000
MIAMI (AP) _ A Cuban college baseball player who abruptly left his teammates shortly after arriving in the United States surfaced in Miami and intends to defect, a sports agent said Monday.
Mario Miguel Chaoui was last seen getting into a waiting car at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport Saturday afternoon, shortly after the team arrived to play the University of St. Thomas team in Minneapolis.
Joe Cubas, a sports agent who has helped other Cuban ballplayers after they fled their communist country, said Monday that Chaoui would apply for asylum and wants to play baseball professionally in the United States.
``He basically jumped in the car of a family member Saturday night and arrived in Miami yesterday,'' Cubas said, adding Chaoui was staying with relatives in South Florida. Cubas plans to represent Chaoui.
The mood Sunday was sedate among members of Equipo Caribe, or Team Caribbean, which is made up mostly of students from the University of Havana and some students from a technical institute in the Cuban capital.
``We came to the states to have a sports exchange and academics exchange, not to have a migration exchange,'' team captain Osmar Ernesto Fernandez said through an interpreter.
``We don't know why he has made this decision,'' said Fernandez, 26, who has known Chaoui since boyhood. ``In Cuba, we have everything we need.''
The team will play St. Thomas at the Metrodome in Minneapolis on Tuesday.
``Our first reaction was rage. We were a little bit upset,'' Fernandez said of Chaoui's apparent defection.
The Rev. Dennis Dease, the president of St. Thomas, said school officials made sure none of the St. Thomas players was harboring Chaoui. He said that the players were all surprised to learn of his disappearance and that several St. Thomas players had been corresponding with him since their trip to Cuba in January.
The last time a Cuban team of college players came to the United States was in 1987 when a national team played several games at the Metrodome.