Three Clarifications on the Forced Migration of Cubans

Sunday, November 22, 2015
By Soren Triff in Diario de Cuba:

Three clarifications on the forced migration of Cubans

The current crisis is not the result of fear that the Cuban Adjustment Act will be repealed. It is part of the regime's plan.

To explain the humanitarian crisis that the Cuban regime is generating in the eyes of the world, there are some terms used by the media that must be immediately rectified: "exodus," "flight" and "economic emigration" or "political emigration."

I understand that these are the traditional reference frameworks for migratory news about Cubans, but they are misleading. In Cuba the regime is creating a forced migration, not an exodus. It is an expulsion of the society's middle class, not a flight. And it is a humanitarian crisis, not a migration of a political or economic nature.

Why is it a forced migration? For years, the migrations of 1965, 1980 and 1994 have been studied as classic cases of forced migrations in political science and international relations textbooks, like Kelly M. Greenhill's Weapons of Mass Migration. As with genocides, these were migrations artificially created by a leader making rational calculations about risks and benefits, resulting in the expulsion of human groups to other democratic countries in order to obtain a range of benefits.

In Cuba the regime controls the entrance and exit of its citizens, so these people have express permission from the government to leave the country. Raúl Castro is carrying out a deliberate, direct attack on certain nationals, using them as weapons in international politics, in addition to an indirect attack on the countries receiving Cubans.

Through this action the leader seeks to conceal the internal conflict between the government and the population, and its failure to improve the lives of Cubans, diverting attention from the national scenario to the international arena, as he banks on other countries accepting Cubans and helping to subsidize his model of government, as has happened before.

Expelled or escaped? Traditionally those who emigrate are considered news, but emigration is not a cause, but rather a consequence of something else. When the news focuses solely on those who migrate, the reason for the emigration remains hidden, and those responsible escape scrutiny. For example, between 1933 and 1938 there was an "exodus" of German Jews to Europe, America and Palestine that distracted attention from the cause: the denial of their rights and the destruction of their livelihoods.

The "Cuban model" consists of exploiting capitalist partners to prop up the regime, as it continues to subject its people to a survival economy. Those who attempt to change acceptable public behavior, economic or social, become internal "enemies" of the State. The regime harasses them with inspections, fines, jail time, taxes, the confiscation of their goods, and low-paying jobs, or ones that do not match their professional qualifications. All this amounts to a state of persecution. Expulsion from the country is a consequence of the above.

The propaganda campaign about the "economic revision" will not really change the "model" employed since 1965. The revision has already been questioned by the Catholic Church, and by some economists in the regime itself. Both sources have expressed concern about the human cost of the process, pointing out the people's sense of urgency and frustration. More than two years ago the Catholic Church stated that the revision addressed "demands long harbored by the population." The bishops stated they wished to see "the beginning of a process of ever-broader reforms, for the good of the people and the rising generation of Cubans. We sense the anxiousness of the people with regards to these aspirations," the bishops said, as reported by this newspaper.

Last year, meanwhile, economists expressed similar concerns. Omar Everleny Pérez stated: "We've been implementing the guidelines for three years and, at the end of the chain, customers and employees are not seeing results." Economist Oscar Fernández Estrada, meanwhile, said: "If they were given an enhanced role [small businesses and cooperatives], especially in productive activities, rather than just services, they could help to bolster employment and economic growth."

Another unidentified economist stated that: "I think that most Cubans are realizing that much needs to happen, and they are increasingly frustrated by the lack of visible action, and negative decisions," he told this newspaper.

It is important to note that these statements by organizations attached to the regime, and its officials, were issued in September of 2013 and 2014. That is, long before the resumption of relations with the US. Thus, it is inaccurate to state that the immigration crisis is a consequence of fear that the obsolete Cuban Adjustment Act will be repealed, as some sources have suggested. Rather, the migration is part of a plan by the regime to eliminate people it does not want to employ, or allow to work independently, and to coerce other countries into taking responsibility for the lives of these Cubans.