Apr 9, 2019

White House scraps historic agreement between MLB and Cuba

Illustration: Sarah Grillo

The Trump administration has nixed Major League Baseball's historic agreement with the Cuban Baseball Federation (CBF) that would have made it easier for Cuban players to enter the U.S. legally without needing to defect.

Why it matters: The goal of this deal was to help end the dangerous trafficking of Cuban players that has gone on for decades, resulting in players being threatened, extorted or even kidnapped.

  • Take Yasiel Puig, for example: After helping Puig escape Cuba, traffickers affiliated with a notorious Mexican drug cartel held him for ransom on a small island for weeks. Go deeper, it's nuts.
  • More horror stories: White Sox slugger José Abreu had to eat his fake passport on his flight to the U.S., and Indians outfielder Leonys Martin was kidnapped.

Details: The agreement is similar to the ones MLB has with Japan, Korea and China and dates back to the Obama administration's détente with Cuba, which intended to soften relations between our two nations.

  • But the White House argued Monday that the CBF is part of the Cuban government and that the agreement, therefore, violates U.S. trade law since MLB would be paying a fee in exchange for each player.

The big picture: This reversal comes amid a crackdown on what the Trump administration calls the "Troika of Tyranny" — Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua.

  • The White House has tightened the economic embargo on Cuba and criticized its government for supporting Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro. This deal would have legitimized the Cuban regime, so they squashed it.

The bottom line: A geopolitical war is being waged — and sadly, young baseball players with dreams of a better life are the collateral damage.

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This year's census may be the toughest count yet

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Community leaders are concerned that historically hard-to-count residents will be even harder to count in this year's census, thanks to technological hurdles and increased distrust in government.

Why it matters: The census — which will count more than 330 million people this year — determines how $1.5 trillion in federal funding gets allocated across state and local governments. Inaccurate counts mean that communities don't get their fair share of those dollars.

Live updates: Coronavirus spreads to Latin America

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

Brazil confirmed the first novel coronavirus case in Latin America Wednesday — a 61-year-old that tested positive after returning from a visit to northern Italy, the epicenter of Europe's outbreak.

The big picture: COVID-19 has killed more than 2,700 people and infected over 81,000 others. By Wednesday morning, South Korea had the most cases outside China, with 1,261 infections. Europe's biggest outbreak is in Italy, where 374 cases have been confirmed.

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Scoop: Census Bureau is paying Chinese state media to reach Americans

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The 2020 Census Paid Media Campaign, which sends U.S. taxpayer dollars to community media outlets to run ads about the upcoming census, is including a Chinese state-run broadcaster as one of its media vendors.

Why it matters: After China's yearslong campaign to co-opt independent Chinese-language media in the U.S., Washington is now paying Beijing-linked media outlets in order to reach Chinese Americans.

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