14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez, Havana, 21 November 2015 – “Anyone who has $15,000 to give a human trafficker is not fleeing poverty,” were the words of Oliver Zamaro, an official spokesperson on Cuban television who was commenting this Friday on the situation of the more than 2,000 Cubans stranded at the border between Costa Rica and Nicaragua.
After days of silence on the situation, the partisan media wants to use the drama of these compatriots as a weapon against the White House. An overused strategy that barely has any effect at this point. Now, they want to convince us that the massive exits are not the responsibility of the country being left behind, but rather of the other one those leaving are trying to reach.
Suffice it to mention the thousands of Cubans who escape to other nations where there is no “wet foot, dry foot” law, to realize that the responsibility for the exodus that we have been experiencing for more than half a century rests on a system that has not been able to offer its citizens material prosperity, personal fulfillment or freedom… Much less a future.
Why, if they can get $15,000, do they prefer to invest it in a dangerous escape with no certainty of getting to the other side, instead of creating a business or prospering in their own country? The answer is painful and compelling: because there are no guarantees, no hope
Mr. Zamora apparently ignores that the amount of money mentioned, equivalent to more than 60 years of the salary of a professional earning 500 Cuban pesos a month, comes from a desperate action, or from help sent from abroad. The majority of those who are currently in Central American shelters have sold all their belongings to undertake such a dangerous route, or depended on relatives who have emigrated to finance the payment to the human traffickers.
The question would be why, if they can get $15,000, do they prefer to invest it in a dangerous escape with no certainty of getting to the other side, instead of creating a business or prospering in their own country. The answer is painful and compelling: because there are no guarantees, no hope and because the timeframe of their lives cannot wait for the promises of improvements on the horizon: promises that every time we come close to touching them become more distant.
The problem unleashed is growing, because Nicaragua’s closing of the border to Cubans is not deterring those left on the island from trying to leave. The flights to Ecuador continue to carry Cubans who, instead of feeling discouraged by the increasing difficulties, believe that the visibility of their cause might protect them and create pressure for a corridor that guarantees passage to the north.
It seems to be a repeat of the effect that moved 10,000 people to occupy the Peruvian embassy in Havana in 1980, and shortly after led more than 100,000 to leave from the Port of Mariel, the same migratory fever that led 35,000 Cubans to figure in the Rafter Crisis in 1994. A nation in flight, one whose children cyclically find a route to leave behind the land where they were born.
It is noteworthy that this situation is happening when Raul Castro’s reforms seem to have peaked and proved their ineffectiveness in bringing about results that can be seen in daily life
It is noteworthy that this situation is happening when Raul Castro’s reforms seem to have peaked and proved their ineffectiveness in bringing about results that can be seen in daily life. Not even the reestablishment of relations between Cuba and the United States has managed to appease the widespread disappointment and despair among Cuba’s youngest.
The undeclared but latent threat, that the Cuban Adjustment Act will be repealed, has only hastened each individual’s decision to abandon their country, but this is neither the trigger nor the cause for deciding to risk one’s own life and those of small children on a journey filled with danger.
A brief statement by Raul Castro in front of the cameras on national television, where he would say what millions of Cubans have waited decades to hear, would be enough to stop the flow of migrants and even to start to reverse it. Not offering this final speech, of the autocracy that will give way to another government, makes him guilty of everything that is happening.