Cuban Migration Crisis – Neither Economic nor Humanitarian
Cuban Migration Crisis: Neither Economic nor Humanitarian / 14ymedio,
14ymedio, Miriam Celaya, Havana, 29 June 2016 — About 400 Cubans who
remained ensconced in front of the embassy of Mexico, in the city of
Quito, Ecuador, demanding an airlift to allow them entry to the United
States, were violently evicted from the place by police in the early
hours of Sunday, 26th June. It was the culmination of a protest that
began on Saturday 18th
Days earlier, the Mexican authorities had informed the thousands of
Cubans in Ecuador that there is no possibility for its government to
establish a new airlift, which leaves unresolved this chapter of the
immigration crisis for the Cubans fleeing the questionable benefits of
Raul Castro’s socialist model.
Mexico, through whose mediation several thousand Cubans managed to
arrive in the US this year, has noted the need for a solution through
“dialogue,” without specifying who would take part in it or when it
would take place. It is fair to point out that Mexico is not responsible
for solving the Cuban migratory crisis. During the month of May, more
than a thousand Cubans in Ecuador had been mobilized for the same
reason: to find a safe exit to follow their route to the US, with no
As usual, the official Cuban press has stayed tight-lipped about this
drama, part of that stream of refugees that continues to flow silently,
as a kind of plebiscite without polls, very clearly showing how
insignificant the performance of their government is to Cubans and where
their real hopes for the future reside.
While the Cuban government remains mute and deaf, Cubans continue to
invade the forests of South and Central America or to defy the Gulf
Stream on rickety boats in the unpredictable waters of the Florida
Straits to reach US territory, spraying the Cuban crisis throughout the
entire regional geography.
Much has been argued about the causes of the current Cuban migration.
Following the crisis sparked last April by the constant arrival of
Cubans in Costa Rica and the closing the Nicaraguan border, which caused
a traffic jam of refugees and strong diplomatic frictions between the
governments of Central America, some leaders in the region have
attributed responsibility for the steady stream of migrants, especially
those coming from Ecuador, Venezuela and Colombia, to the existence of
the Cuban Adjustment Act
Some analysts, while deploring the preferential treatment of US
authorities towards Cubans arriving in their territory, have indicated
that the fears among Cubans that the Act will be repealed after the
restoration of relations between the governments of the US and Cuba is
the main source of such a constant and increasing exodus.
The preferential treatment includes immediate legal protection and
access to the Federal Program for Refugee Resettlement, thanks to the
1980 amendment of the Cuban Adjustment Act. In addition, in just over a
year, most get their permanent residence, regardless of their reasons
for leaving Cuba.
In contrast, migrants from South and Central America, Mexico, and
elsewhere, are returned to their countries of origin when they are
caught, either at any of the border crossings or by immigration
authorities within the US, despite the real violence of the situations
they suffer in their countries, related to wars or drug trafficking,
criminal gangs linked to drug cartels, murder, kidnapping, the aftermath
of the guerrillas, paramilitaries, poverty and other situations that
Cubans within the Island do not endure.
The Adjustment Act has thus been turned into the alleged determining
cause—and, therefore, the obstacle to eliminate in solving the problem
of migration from Cuba—when the real causes for the Cuban exodus are the
hopelessness, the absence of opportunities, the generalized poverty and
the failure of the “revolutionary project” of Castro-communism.
In fact, the government’s economic program stemming from the VII
Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba under the guise of the documents
Conceptualization of the Cuban Economic and Social Development Plan and
National Economic Development and Social Plan until 2030, are, all by
themselves, a stronger incentive for the national stampede than a
hundred Adjustment Laws.
However, to focus the discussion of the migratory drama in the search
for the alleged responsible villain, be it the Cuban Adjustment Act or
the olive-green caste enthroned in power, not only masks and delays the
solution of the problem, which undoubtedly is in the hands of Cubans
themselves, but diffuses the explanation of the basic issues, which are
not the mere existence of a particular foreign law that rules the
personal future of émigrés from the island, but the fundamentals of the
existence of a dictatorship in Cuba that has dominated the destiny of a
nation for over almost 60 years, largely thanks to the acquiescence of
It is, therefore, about a vicious circle that seems to not have an end,
because, though the main cause of the Cuban exodus is a situation
resulting from a suffocating, long-lived dictatorship that nullifies the
individual—and not a law enacted 50 years ago by a foreign government—it
is Cubans’ incredible capacity for tolerance that has allowed the
survival of the system to date that drives them to look for their future
beyond the horizon.
The mobilizing ability of some bargain-basement “leaders” among Cuban
émigrés is extremely noticeable. They are ready to demand from foreign
authorities what they were not capable of demanding from the Cuban
government, and implicate in such demands significant numbers of
individuals including families with minor children.
It is also hard to believe that several hundreds of Cubans can organize
themselves, demand a solution to the crisis they have provoked, and
prepare themselves to make statements to the press and cameras that will
show their faces to the world.
Are they the same individuals who remained silently acquiescent to the
abuses of power in Cuba? Are they the same ones who accepted the
ideological indoctrination of their children, the ration card, the dual
currency, the high prices, the most miserable wages, the blackouts, the
government-sponsored marches and all the existential humiliation under
How can so much political willpower to demand rights in a foreign land
that are not theirs be explained, when they were stripped of natural
rights in their own land and accepted the humiliation in fearful
silence? Is it less dangerous to traverse jungles and mountains riddled
with dangers and drag their people into such an unpredictable adventure
than to simply refuse to cooperate with the Castro regime that condemns
them to eternal poverty?
The issue deserves a thorough anthropological study of the nature of the
Cuban people and the catastrophic effects of more than half a century of
dictatorship, beyond any logic of solidarity with their cause or wishes
for the successful outcome for the efforts of those fleeing the Island.
There are signs that also indicate how deeply the uprooting from their
land has infiltrated so many Cubans. For over half a century, the Castro
regime has stripped the Cuban people to such a point that a significant
number of Cubans don’t even feel the impulse to defend in their own
country what is theirs by birth, history and culture.
The native moral duality becomes more evident especially when it comes
to seeking immediate solutions to current problems, carefully avoiding
any political involvement and placing on the shoulders of others the
weight of problems that are ours.
This is what is happening now, when refugees stranded in Ecuador are
defining their situation as a “humanitarian crisis,” though the issue is
not about groups fleeing from a war, or about the politically
persecuted, or about survivors of a natural disaster, of a famine, or
ethnic conflict. Paradoxically, they are making demands in countries
already facing their own national crises, without the need to put up
with the Cuban crisis.
What is more, these Cuban migrants do not risk jail or death if returned
to their country of origin. They even declare: “We have nothing to do
with politics and we are not against the Cuban government. Our aim is to
reach the U.S.”
It is about generations shaped in the philosophy of survival, brought up
in permanent simulation, of “pretending to go along,” where anything
goes, in a society where the principle of every man for himself reigns,
so they resort to any means to reach their objective, in this case,
reaching the U.S. That is why they present themselves as subjects
trapped in a “humanitarian situation” that, nevertheless, they have
chosen not to associate with the political situation in Cuba.
Of course, there’s no denying the humanitarian principles of support for
the needy or remaining indifferent to the fact that most Cuban migrants
caught in transit to the US—just like other hundreds of thousands of
migrants of so many countries in the region—lack the means and resources
to survive, have no access to health care and other essential social
benefits, such as a secure roof, basic housing conditions, water
service, appropriate hygienic food and clothing, so they depend
essentially on the solidarity of others. But they have voluntarily
placed themselves in that situation.
We are facing a situation which doesn’t seem to offer any short-term
answers, and, in any case, whose ultimate solution depends on
surmounting Cuba’s internal crisis, whose essence is markedly political,
though, by their irresponsibility, the government and those governed
continue to pretend to ignore it.
Translated by Norma Whiting
Source: Cuban Migration Crisis: Neither Economic nor Humanitarian /
14ymedio, Miriam Celaya – Translating Cuba –