Cuba to Play in US-Canada Baseball League

Cuba is set to play in the Can-Am baseball league next year.

Cuba’s national baseball team will face off against competitors from the United States, Canada and Japan next year, Cuban media reported Monday.

“We are honored that the Cuban national team respects the Can-Am League and will send their best team,” Miles Wolff, commissioner of the Canadian American Association of Professional Baseball (Can-Am) said Thursday.

According to Can-Am’s 2016 schedule, Cuba will participate in the league’s next season, running from May 2016 until September.

According to a statement from Can-Am, “Cuba’s national team has historically been a powerhouse on the international baseball scene, winning Olympic gold medals three times, the Pan American Games championship 12 times, and the IBAF Baseball World Cup championship 25 times.”

“In addition, Cuba finished second at the 2006 World Baseball Classic. The team was available to play Can-Am League opponents in 2016 as there are no international tournaments which conflict with its schedule this year,” the organization said.

The announcement came amid thawing relations between the United States and Cuba. Last week a joint U.S./Cuban bilateral commission held its second round of talks in Havana, aimed at moving towards the normalization of relations.

The talks focused on evaluating progress already made, along with ways to continue moving towards normal relations, according to a statement from Cuba’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The negotiations took place within the framework of the joint Bilateral Commission in Havana.

The commission was created in August to facilitate talks on the normalization of ties between Cuba and the United States. The latest round of negotiations were the second meeting of the commission.

During the talks in Havana, Cuba pushed for the dismantlement of the U.S. blockade, arguing the decades-old embargo is the most significant barrier to normal relations.

U.S. President Barack Obama conceded in July that the blockade had failed. Since then, he has often hinted that it would soon be lifted.

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