Ms. Rivera learned about the measure from the TV program with Mr. Acosta, the secretary of the Council of State.
“I got very excited and happy,” she said. “Right away the phone began ringing and didn’t stop for hours. It was family and Ihosvany’s friends calling to say they were already preparing the party.”
The last time Mr. Hernandez saw his parents was four years ago, when they traveled to Poland, where he played on a local team.
“I plan to go. Not right away, but next summer for vacation, God willing,” said Mr. Hernandez, who is now a coach in Alicante, Spain, after retiring from the game. “I’m going to start saving up money.”
For some people, the rule is provoking major soul-searching about their relationship with Cuba.
“El Duque,” who fled the island on a boat in 1997 and went on to win three World Series with the Yankees, applauded the measure, but said he’s not sure whether he will take advantage of it.
With some bitterness in his voice, Orlando Hernandez alluded to how, shortly after his brother Livan defected, Cuban sports authorities interrogated him about contacts with a U.S. agent and ultimately kicked him out of baseball.
“I left in search of something that they had taken away from me. They had banned me for life, and I would have no life without baseball,” Orlando Hernandez said. “For that reason, I thank this country [the U.S.], which took me in.”
He paused, silent, before continuing: “I never deserted.”
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