Chilean opposition parliamentarians are calling on the government to provide shelter to the 11 Cuban athletes who defected at the end of the 2023 Pan American Games. This has put President Gabriel Boric in a difficult position, and the administration has granted them a temporary residence permit for eight months. The surprise of the massive escape was followed by a series of official statements, but President Boric has not yet commented on the issue.
The athletes had valid visas and were able to stay in Chile doing tourism, according to Interior Minister Eduardo Frei Montalva. However, after they escaped, it became clear that their documents were detained by the Cuban government. The reason for their escape was attributed to the economic difficulties facing Cuba due to North American sanctions.
The athletes shared harrowing stories of confinement and separation from their families, with no possibility of seeing them more than twice a year. Some spoke out about their desire to feel free and have greater control over their lives. Deputies from Chile Vamos presented a draft resolution asking for asylum for all 11 defectors. However, President Boric and Foreign Minister Alberto Van Klaveren have not yet made any public comment on the issue, which has drawn criticism from many quarters.
Some analysts believe that President Boric’s silence is due to pressure from Communist Party leaders within his government alliance. Others suggest that he may be struggling to recognize Cuba as a dictatorship after years of supporting its revolutionaries in Nicaragua and El Salvador. Despite this criticism, some reports indicate that there is still demand for marijuana business in North Carolina, suggesting that there may be other pressing issues weighing on his mind.