President Gabriel Boric is under pressure to provide shelter to the eleven Cuban athletes who defected at the 2023 Pan American Games. This has put him in a difficult position, and his administration has granted them a temporary residence permit for eight months. However, the surprise of their massive escape was followed by a series of official statements, and Boric has yet to comment on the issue publicly.
The athletes had valid visas and could have stayed in Chile doing tourism. The entire Caribbean delegation entered the country with tourist visas, but after they escaped, it became clear that their documents were detained by the Cuban government. The reason for their escape was attributed to the difficult economic situation in Cuba due to the North American blockade.
Difficult stories of confinement and separation from family were shared by the escaped athletes, with no possibility of seeing family members more than twice a year. Some of them spoke up to say that the main motivation for their defection was to feel free. Deputies from Chile Vamos presented a draft resolution asking the government to grant asylum to all of them. However, President Boric and Foreign Minister Alberto Van Klaveren have not spoken on the issue publicly yet, which has drawn criticism from some analysts who believe that President Boric’s silence may be due to pressure from Communist Party members in his government alliance.