Major League Baseball announced this week that it has taken action to comply with President Trump’s executive order imposing an embargo against socialist Nicolas Maduro-controlled Venezuela. In an attempt to adhere to the order, the league is barring all players from participating in the Venezuela Winter League.
“MLB has been in contact with the relevant government agencies regarding the Executive Order issued by President Trump on Venezuela,” the league said in a statement reported by ESPN Thursday. “MLB will fully adhere to the policies implemented by our government. With respect to the Venezuela Winter League, MLB will suspend its involvement in that league until it receives direction from the relevant agencies that participation by affiliated players is consistent with the Executive Order.”
According to ESPN’s sources, the “murkiness” of the relationship between the Liga Venezolana de Beísbol Profesional (LVBP) and a government-run business prompted MLB to look into the move, which could impact dozens of major and minor league players who frequently participate in the league.
ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports that sources say the MLB feared “that players agreeing to deals with a government-affiliated entity — or agents consummating the deals — would run afoul of the Aug. 5 executive order, which banned any such transactions.”
Sources also told ESPN that they fear the ban could have larger and lasting repercussions, creating a situation similar to the complicated relationship between the league and Cuba, particularly by prompting Maduro to retaliate by barring amateur players from being able to sign with the MLB.
Passan notes that the Justice Department is currently conducting an extensive investigation into the league’s Latin American business, including inquiries into the Braves, the Padres, and the Dodgers. In spring, the administration shut down a deal between MLB and the Cuban government “that would have allowed Cuban players to sign directly with the league instead of taking the circuitous and dangerous paths offered by traffickers.”
Trump issued the order in response to the increasingly tyrannical actions of Maduro, whose failing socialist government has helped drive the once-thriving nation into economic collapse. The U.S. has formally declared Maduro an illegitimate political leader, throwing its support behind the Venezuelan opposition leader, Juan Guaidó.
In his executive order on Venezuela, which imposes a full embargo on Venezuela, Trump condemns Maduro and his government officials for “the continued usurpation of power” and “human rights abuses, including arbitrary or unlawful arrest and detention of Venezuelan citizens, interference with freedom of expression, including for members of the media, and ongoing attempts to undermine Interim President Juan Guaido and the Venezuelan National Assembly’s exercise of legitimate authority in Venezuela.”