Jim Caple, ESPN.com writer, says to let Cuba play:
Trying to make sense of our government's refusal to let Cuba compete in the World Baseball Classic? It's easy. All you need is a little amnesia.
First, forget that Cuba was allowed to compete in Atlanta in the 1996 Olympics. Next, forget that it played an exhibition game against the Orioles in Baltimore in 1999. Then forget that even our current administration allowed Cuba's national soccer team to compete in last year's CONCACAF Gold Cup in Seattle.
While you're at it, forget that our government is letting that well-known global leader in human rights -- mainland China -- play in the World Baseball Classic. Forget also that our myopic foreign policy toward Cuba has failed to oust Fidel Castro after more than 40 years while hurting Cuban citizens far more than Castro. And oh yes, forget that our own government has prisoners locked up in Cuba's Guantanamo Bay for an indefinite period.
Have you erased all that from your memory? Good. Because if we're all able to forget one more thing, I'll give the current administration a cynical reason why it should allow Cuba into the WBC. If allowed to play in the WBC, the Cubans will lose big on a world stage. That's because you can also forget Cuba's international domination in baseball over the decades."
The U.S. Treasury department is enforcing the WBC ban, but this isn't about money. Cuba is not going to benefit financially from this tournament. The tournament is not likely to make much of a profit this year -- perhaps a couple million dollars, perhaps less than that. The winning nation will get only 10 percent of that, the losers even less. Further, Cuba is offering to donate its meager payout to Hurricane Katrina charities. So what's the problem, other than that Cuba does not produce oil or have a billion-citizen economy?
If you want the United States to look like a petty tyrant with a hypocritical foreign policy, then by all means, ban Cuba from playing. That way, we'll drop right into Castro's propaganda hands. We'll look like the big bully afraid to see our millionaire players get beaten by little Cuba, afraid to take charity from an island off the coast of Florida.
But if you want to embarrass Castro, then let Cuba play and get beat. Let Fidel and the world see how far his team has fallen.
It seems Jim has gotten a couple of things right, and a couple wrong. On the wrong side, he seems to think it's Fidel Castro who is keeping his nation mired in poverty by forcing the United States to enforce trade sanctions against Cuba. Of course, if the United States lifted trade sanctions against the tiny island nation, that tiny island nation would once again become a baseball powerhouse, but this would be only a minor side effect of the real damage that Cuba would do to the repuation of the United States - it would prove that a communist/socialist country can flourish. The U.S. government will never allow this to happen - at least, not unless American citizens force it to.
For the good of the people of Cuba, and the good of working people in the U.S. who would love to do business with Cuba, the United States should lift the trade sanctions against Cuba immediately, and allow Cuba to play in the World Baseball Classic tournament.
In other words, don't be a petty tyrant, America - be just.
UPDATE: Cuba is in. The Treasury Department spokesperson had this to say:
This agreement ensures that no funding will make its way into the hands of the Castro regime. The Treasury is pleased to now be able to issue this license and looks forward to seeing all of the teams showcase their talents on the international stage.
In other words, Castro is a bit more of a totalitarian than Bush, so we must continue to punish his people, keeping them in poverty for allowing Castro to be their leader. Just like Americans have allowed Bush to be their leader.
It's morally horrific to mete out this kind of vengeance against a relatively-powerless civilian population because they haven't been able to break Castro's grip on power.