Obama-Castro Deal Making Things Worse in Cuba

Tuesday, December 29, 2015
From The Telegraph:

How more Cubans are fleeing for the US than ever

Yenis Rojas should be a symbol of Cuba’s future. A doctor, she has worked all her life for the state, and is full of drive, energy and ambition.

And yet, despite the announcement a year ago that America and Cuba were re-establishing ties after half a century of hostilities, she sees no promise in her homeland and has fled.

“I had to get out,” she said, speaking from the Costa Rica, close to the border with Nicaragua, where she is camped out. "I couldn't stand it any more."

On Sunday, Pope Francis called for Central American states to find an urgent solution to help them.

"I ask the countries of the region to generously resume efforts to find a quick solution to this humanitarian drama," he said, speaking from St Peter’s.

It is a problem that has been brewing for many weeks. Last week the Nicaraguan government proposed that Washington organise an airlift to take the migrants directly from Costa Rica to the United States. The Costa Rican government has tried to convince both Belize and Guatemala to allow the Cubans passage to reach Mexico.

Almost 6,000 Cubans are currently in Costa Rica, said Mrs Rojas – waiting like her, her husband and their friend to make it to the US. Her 14-year-old son has stayed behind with a sister; she hopes eventually to bring him to the US.

Since leaving Cuba on November 9, she has journeyed by boat, bus, foot and plane to get closer to her goal of reaching the United States. Next was an eight-hour walk to the border crossing, before carrying on north.
Cubans have since 1966 been able, unlike any other Latinos, to show up at an established US port of entry, declare their nationality, and enter the country. But with the new agreement, they fear that policy may end.

“Now we all want to leave Cuba more than ever,” she said.

Mrs Rojas, 36, is one of an estimated 45,000 Cubans to have left the island this year – the biggest annual exodus since the 1980 Mariel boatlift, which hauled 125,000 people across the Florida Straits. Many now are using a new route – flying in to Ecuador, which has lifted visa restrictions, and then travelling overland through Central America and Mexico.

But did not the agreement bring the prospect of better days? Embassies have opened, business has surged, credit cards are now being accepted, and – last week – direct flights and postal services resumed. Internet access has widened and arrivals of American visitors increased 50 per cent, year on year. Has this not helped them financially?

“For us Cubans our lives have not changed,” Mrs Rojas said. “Actually, it’s getting worse.”