Alaska, Another Route for Cubans / Juan Juan Almeida

Juan Juan Almeida, 1 December 2015 — As a part of the basket of measures relating to the migration crisis concerning Cubans in Costa Rica, and with the obvious intention of protecting human interests, starting from 1st December, Cubans wanting to travel to Ecuador will have to get a visa to enter that country.

The regulation is an attempt to control the stampede; but already the human traffickers, taking a bird’s eye view and with financial resources, are trying to find new routes to connect Havana with the United States. Now it seems crossing the last frontier is the latest thing.

I would like to make it clear that not one single letter of what I am writing here is any attempt to encourage illegal emigration; but, to write about the matter with my eyes closed or making political points, is to make myself a central part of the problem.

Crossing Central America, Cubans in the hands of traffickers have to confront  the dangers of the jungle, get around conflict zones ruled by guerrillas and drug traffickers, and put up with the aggravation of being constantly ripped off by corrupt locals. Things more improbable, but just as dangerous as the Siberian steppes.

The latest madness also costs 10,000 – 12,000 CUC per person.

Cubans, conscious victims of people traffickers, fly Havana – Moscow by Cubana de Aviación (CU0470) 1.156,00 €, or by Aeroflot Russian Airlines (SU0151) 627,39 €.

Arriving, still a few at a time, at Sheremetyevo International Airport, the Cubans are received by guides who put them up in previously-reserved houses and hostels. I have been told that it is all quite a challenge, they give them warm clothes, something to eat, and then, like polar bear cubs, God knows in what conditions, they get onto a whaling ship and cross the Bering Strait to arrive in Alaska, which is American territory.

Cubans heading to the United States

We know the rest, the Cuban Adjustment Law.

The situation in Costa Rica, will eventually be sorted out. How?  I don’t know. That is for governments and diplomats to work on. But let’s not kid ourselves. The problem exists and the exodus continues.

Already, Havana is whispering that Oceania is another way, heading toward the Cook Islands, Niue, Tuvalu and Samoa, states which have visa-free agreements with Cuba, nothing complicated, and from there travel to American Samoa, which, as its name indicates, is also American territory.

The person I was talking to told me something which shook me: “Water should be free, drinking it is a vital part of a human being’s existence; but water gets bottled and sold. Don’t you think that is profiting from life? Getting people out of Cuba, people who are going to flee anyway from that country, is less shameful than selling bottled water.”

We did not dramatise the tragedy saying that in order to control the migration the rules of a million dollar organisation are going to change. It isn’t like that, we know that the Cuban and United States governments, and the whole region is working to trap the traffickers; but this is tackling the effect without doing something about the cause. The solution is to create a Cuba with rights, liberties and opportunities. Then, no-one would want to escape.

As you know, when hope dies, so does love. That, for a disillusioned people, the traffickers are seen as strange roses growing in the ashes of a disaster; but, I think that the most dangerous thing is not the traffic in Cubans, but that the island  will be converted into the most perfect location for the transit of people from many other countries, who are seeking the same destiny; but with a different objective: Terrorism.

Translated by GH