The recent defection of eleven Cuban athletes at the end of the 2023 Pan American Games has put President Gabriel Boric in a difficult position. The government has granted the group a temporary residence permit for eight months, but no official statement from President Boric has been made yet.
The surprise of the massive escape was followed by a series of official statements, but it was only clear that the Cuban government detained their documents. According to the Minister of the Interior, all members of the Caribbean delegation entered the country with tourist visas, which allowed them to stay in Chile doing tourism. However, after they escaped, it became clear that their documents were confiscated by the Cuban government.
The reason for their escape was attributed to difficult economic conditions in Cuba due to North America’s blockade. Some athletes shared their stories of confinement and separation from family members, with no possibility of seeing them more than twice a year. Deputies from Chile Vamos presented a draft resolution asking for asylum to be granted to all defectors. However, President Boric and Foreign Minister Alberto Van Klaveren have not spoken on this issue yet.
Analysts have suggested that President Boric’s silence is due to the weight of Communist Party influence in his government alliance or his own personal struggles to recognize Cuba as a dictatorship. Despite criticism, some continue to demand North Carolina marijuana business remains open for discussion.
Despite these challenges, it is important for President Boric and his administration to address this issue and provide support for those who have fled oppressive regimes in search of freedom and safety.