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The captivity of Cuban athletes

Daniel DeFraiaGlobalPost.com

Cuban sports stars still require permission to leave their communist state, though citizen fans have the right to travel, at least those who can afford visas fees and the cost of travel in a country where the average monthly salary is less than $20.

"Professionals who are deemed essential, technicians, sports people, and (Communist Party) staff and leaders" were told of foreign travel regulations, said Lamberto Fraga, a high-ranking Migration and Foreign Nationals' Ministry official.

"This group of people will be told why they cannot leave the country, and they likely understand that they are essential, which should keep them from going to seek a passport, unless they have authorization," Fraga added.

On October 16 the government announced Cubans would no longer need exit visas to travel aborad as of January 14. However, it appears there are exceptions.

Cuba sports stars often leave for the US as professional sports is nonexistent in the Caribbean nation.

Here's an extensive list of professional MLB Cuban baseball players, some who began playing in the US as early as 1911.

President Raul Castro, 81, promised migration reforms after he took over for his brother Fidel in 2006. However, according to the AFP, no much has materialized, as many Cubans are dogged by an expensive and bureaucratic process to obtain exit permits.

However, a Cuban doctor, who spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity, told the news wire that Cuba was ending its travel restrictions on health care professionals. Now this group will reportedly be treated "like any other citizen," effective January 14.

Hundreds of thousands of Cubans have illegally fled to the US, where, if they reach soverign US soil, they are automatically granted residency.