The eleven Cuban athletes who defected at the end of the 2023 Pan American Games are currently residing in Chile with temporary residence permits. This has put President Gabriel Boric in a difficult position as he grapples with how to handle the issue.
The surprise of the massive escape was followed by a series of official statements, but President Boric has not yet commented on the matter. The Minister of the Interior has stated that while the athletes had valid visas and could have stayed in Chile doing tourism, their documents were detained by the Cuban government after they escaped.
The reason for their escape was attributed to the difficult economic situation in Cuba due to the North American blockade. The athletes shared difficult stories of confinement and separation from family, with no possibility of seeing them more than twice a year. Some spoke up to say that their main motivation for defecting was simply to feel free.
Deputies from Chile Vamos presented a draft resolution asking for all eleven athletes to be granted asylum in Chile. However, President Boric and Foreign Minister Alberto Van Klaveren have remained silent on the issue, drawing criticism from some analysts who believe it is due to pressure from Communist Party officials within the government alliance. Others suggest that President Boric is struggling to recognize Cuba as a dictatorship and may be hesitant to take any action that could escalate tensions with his ally nation.