Adjusting to the Needs of the People / Rosa María Rodríguez Torrado

Photo from Telemundo 51

Cubans began to flee the country from the time of the triumph of the government that was established in Cuba at the beginning of 1959. Never before had such a large number of compatriots fled, leaving the equity they had built over their whole lives, along with parts of their families.

Historical propaganda against communism had demonized leftist models and, rightly, opened the floodgates to the Cubans, who were left to make their way through those liberating waters, with all who had the conditions and resources abandoning the island, because they didn’t want to wait to see where “that current” might lead them.

The reality exceeded the imagination of many, and in the diaspora they reinforced each other and created strong Cuban communities in the hopes of returning to the homeland.

“The Cuban Adjustment Act” was approved on November 2, 1966 by the Congress of the United States. Public Law 89-732 allowed the Attorney General of the United States to “adjust” the status of Cuban refugees who were in the U.S. to that of permanent residents.

It’s been 46 years and yet this legislation remains in force. For some time and with the intention of eliminating the law, we have heard that the Cuban government blame the U.S. for the deaths of Cubans who take to the seas in rustic boats in hopes of achieving and enjoying the freedom that another country gives its citizens, because the government of theirs kidnapped most of their rights from them.

For some years there have been questions about the validity and sense of the Cuban Adjustment Act from various interests.Even in the documentary film by Guillermo Alvarez Guedes, “Everything is Between Cubans,” there are different opinions on the issue, but I see a trend against more Cubans entering the country that also welcomed them.

The majority opinion involves a controversy, because those who came before, as is natural, adapted better to the lifestyle of the United States than did those who came after them, who brought, “and still do,” the totalitarian habits and boots of more than half a century of helplessness.

Why do some reject others? The issue could trigger a lengthy debate that runs from the origin of our identity to the elimination of the “Cuban Adjustment Act,” and desired by the authorities of the archipelago.

But the future of this legal precept is the responsibility of the government of the United States and the interests of the Cuban community in that country, while the continuing emigration of our fellow citizens, which over time has diversified toward any geographic coordinate, is the responsibility of Cubans.

I do not know what will be the fate of the legislation that is the object of concern of so many and of questions by others. I suppose it is a media target and enters the spotlight cyclically because those who actually have the power to make a decision about it and change it or repeal it are issuing opinions or collecting information about it.

In either case I distance myself from this issue because it’s not within my area of competency, and because I think that, instead of coming forth with rigid and arbitrary repressive policies on emigration, the fundamental purpose of all governments should be to “meet the needs and desires of their people” and to create conditions so that their citizens want to remain in their native land, in the highest and noble duty of progressively rebuilding a better Cuba in a sustainable way.

9 February 2013