Cuban-Americans Beware: Rights Disappear in Cuba

Thursday, April 28, 2016
By Guillermo Martinez in Sun-Sentinel:

Cuban-Americans beware: rights disappear in Cuba

Cuban-Americans heading to Cuba should beware of what they won't have

The information came to me from different sources. One was from a friend who I don't see often enough.The other came from Cesar Pizarro, who I have known since the 1970s at The Miami Herald.

The first one was trying to convince me to travel to Cuba. He did, however, warn me that on the day that one gets on an airplane from the United States to Havana, Cuban-Americans have to leave the Bill of Rights sitting on the airplane. They are no good in Cuba.

Then came a succinct message from Pizarro, with a copy of the page where the U.S. Embassy in Havana details its services for Cuban- Americans. It was chilling.

I could not believe what I was reading, so I went directly to the Internet and found the page that Pizarro had sent to me.

Under the heading of dual nationality, the embassy document addresses what it can and mainly cannot do for people of dual nationalities. This applies to Cubans born on the island that have become American citizens and (this part is incredible and despicable) to the children of Cuban Americans born in the United States.

But, instead of trying to say what the document says in my words, let me pick up a few choice sentences from the document itself.

Under the heading of Dual Nationality, it reads: "The Government of Cuba does not recognize the U.S. nationality of U.S. citizens who are Cuban-born or (and here is the part that to me is unbelievable and unacceptable) or are the children of Cuban parents.

These individuals will be treated solely as Cuban citizens and may be subject to a range of restrictions and obligations, including military service (in Cuba).

The Cuban government may require U.S. citizens, whom the Government of Cuba considers to be Cuban, to enter and depart using a Cuban passport… There have been cases of Cuban-American dual nationals being forced by the Cuban government to surrender their U.S. passports," the document says.

The document also issues a serious warning to all Cuban Americans:

"Cuban-American dual nationals should be especially wary of any attempt by Cuban authorities to compel them to sign 'repatriation' documents. The Government of Cuba views a declaration of repatriation as a legal statement on the part of the dual national that she/he intends to resettle permanently in Cuba.

In several instances, the Government of Cuba has seized the U.S. passport of dual nationals signing declarations of repatriation and has denied these individuals permission to return to the United States."

The document is indeed chilling.

But the part that concerns me most is the part that these draconian measures by the Cuban government apply also to the American-born children of Cuban-American parents.

That means that for Cuba, even children born in the United States are Cuban nationals and they have all rights over them – whether they decide to apply them or not.

As an aside, I am just wondering what would happen in my case. My wife and I are Cuban-born American citizens who came here in 1959 and 1960. We have two children. The oldest was born in Argentina, while we still had not become American citizens. That makes him a naturalized American citizen and his dual nationality, which he has never sought, is as an Argentine.

My daughter was born in Peru and we had already become American citizens. We inscribed her in the American Embassy and thus, like Ted Cruz' parents did in Canada, she is an American citizen by birth.

Now, mind you, Cuba is obviously not applying all these regulations rigorously. Yet it is important to know, for who knows the evil that lurks in the hearts of the Castro brothers.

The may or may not want to apply the laws in Cuba, but what the U.S. Embassy document does is warn all Cuban Americans of the dangers that they might encounter in the Communist nation. And, it is extremely important to say, that in this case the American Embassy in Havana says that it must abide by the Cuban laws and thus can do nothing for Cuban-Americans apprehended in Cuba during their travels to the island.