Ivan Garcia, 19 January 2017 — There are few things that spontaneously bring Cubans on the island together. For example, if the provincial team is crowned champion in the national baseball series, where, in between the infamous beer and a noisy reggaeton, in Communist Party-arranged pachangas, people celebrate at the tops of their voices.
It’s also a desire to live as well as possible in a country with the lowest salary in the third world and things for sale at the same price as in Qatar. And, God willing, to be able to travel abroad.
It’s all the same if it is for business, or a government mission, or an invitation from a relative, a friend, or a future fiancé or fiancée living in Europe. To emigrate for a fixed period of time or permanently, is an almost permanent plan on the part of many unmotivated young people or professionals who earn less than a hotel porter.
A wide cross-section of the Cuban population has it stuck in their imagination, like a postage stamp, that some foreign country ought to sort out their national disaster.
Instinctively and shamelessly, the government, Cubans in the street, trained intellectuals and dissidents, act the victim, and blame the mess on the trade embargo, the global crisis, tropical hurricanes, or the lack of help from the United States.
Any situation is held responsible for the economy not growing, not enough houses being built, the disaster area that is urban transport and waste collection and that the internet is not available everywhere.
With new measures adopted jointly by the White House and the Palace of the Revolution, abolishing the wet-foot/dry-foot policy, an inconsistent policy that Clinton enacted in 1994 which allowed Cubans who “touched dry ground” in the US to stay, the majority of Cubans have vented their anger at Barack Obama.
Let’s analyse it. Obama is a liar. He cannot publicly announce that certain migration laws exclusive to Cubans will not be changed, and then eight days before the end of his mandate, changed them.
And it isn’t that Barack is mistaken. No. He is right. Each sovereign nation designs its immigration regulations as it sees fit. The privileges for Cubans were at the very least counterproductive.
If being born in a country with a dictatorial communist government, where founding other political parties and the freedom of the press are prohibited, is a force majeure for the state which is the world’s greatest receiver of immigrants to offer an opportunity to Cubans, then it should not take any half-measures, and should defend its enacted legislation according to its ethical principles.
Democracy, opportunity and human rights are part of the pillars of American society. They should not find it difficult to safeguard them. Although, in the case of migration, it should be monitored.
A terrorist is not going to arrive from Cuba, and dangerous criminals rarely land. But sometimes there are scammers of Federal programs, people who bet on making money with the sale of drugs, or lazy intellectuals, accustomed to living in a parasitic state where natural human ambition is labelled as suspected delinquency, who abuse the support of the American government.
The wet-foot/dry-foot policy was a dangerous and badly implemented program. If you are going to receive immigrants, then receive them. Don’t make them go on a marathon by sea or land to reach the United States’ border.
That double standard of the American executive was absurd. If you want to help the hundreds of thousands, probably a million or two, who dream of emigrating, do it by safe routes.
Lotteries for visas, or, after analyzing the labour needs of different production and service areas, grant work permits. If you want to find out how many Cubans are fed up with the Castro military junta, I suggest that the White House grant a three-month extension and issue a visa to any Cuban who wants it and has no criminal history. The queues outside the embassy in Havana would be miles-long.
Sloppy regulations create a reckless mirage. Because what the letter of the law doesn’t prohibit is presumed to be permissible. That’s what happened to the policy repealed by Obama.
It’s a pity for his administration, which was certainly the most highly-regarded by the Cuban people, until it annulled the wet-foot/dry-foot policy. If you spoil a child, it will not behave reasonably later.
The United States federal government should allow the two or three thousand Cubans scattered throughout Central America and Mexico, to enter the US. Most of them burnt their boats. They sold their homes and valuable possessions. They cannot look back. They have nothing left.
The greatness of the United States is not its force, but its magnanimity. Those professionals, athletes and technicians, among others, who want to work hard to get on, should have a chance to emigrate safely from Cuba.
Some dissidents and exiles believe that after closing the immigration doors, many fellow countrymen would begin street protests demanding their rights.
It would be ideal. But I’m afraid that’s not going happen. Totalitarian States are whimsically different. If four generations of Cubans have left or have been expelled from their homeland, they can’t ask the rest to be heroes.
Most Cubans are peaceful people. They want the best for their family and to live in dignity. The Castro autocracy will fail because of its own inefficiency. But it has strength and will not hesitate to use it.
The silent mass of Cubans, who pretend to have loyalty to the regime and also yearn to emigrate, do not want to be cannon fodder. Patriotism and defence of their rights are not going to bring them together to challenge the regime.
It’s hard to accept, but it’s the way it is. They only want to emigrate. And to the United States as their first option.
Translated by GH