EFE (via 14ymedio), Havana, 18 November 2023 — The Nation and Emigration conference, where the Cuban Government will meet in Havana with several hundred invited emigrants, starts this Saturday while the economic crisis fuels the largest national exodus in decades.
Among the main novelties of the event is its emphasis on promoting Cuban migrants to invest in the country, especially in the incipient private sector that is forming small, newly created companies. The focus is especially on Cuban-Americans.
In an interview with Temas magazine, the general director of Consular Affairs and Cubans Living Abroad in Cuba, Ernesto Soberón, explained that one of the objectives is “to create ways so that Cubans who want and desire can contribute to the economic development of the country”.
In general terms, the conference is understood by the Cuban Government as a mechanism to conduct dialogue with Cubans abroad and as a symbol of the “continuity” of this exchange.
“It will be an opportunity to update our compatriots, first-hand, about the Cuban reality and their participation in the development of the Homeland,” Soberón wrote on social networks; EFE has requested an interview with him but so far received no answer.
The event, which continues until Sunday, will begin with a speech by Miguel Díaz-Canel. Some 300 Cuban emigrants of different generations and residents of 50 countries will participate in the meeting. The Cuban Government sent invitations to some of them; others requested to attend and were admitted, the organizers explained.
In this meeting the country will open its “arms to its children residing abroad,” but with a nuance. “Those who respect and defend the soil where they were born will always be welcome.”
Díaz-Canel wrote on social networks that for this meeting the country will open its “arms to its children residing abroad,” but with a nuance. “Those who respect and defend the soil where they were born will always be welcome,” he added.
The majority of participants whose identities have been revealed are people linked to solidarity groups with Cuba abroad. The first edition of this conference took place in 1978 and the last one was held 19 years ago. It represents a change in Havana’s treatment of the Cuban community abroad, marked by political differences and exile since the triumph of the Revolution in 1959.
The debates, which will not be public, have been grouped into four thematic panels, among which the one on socioeconomic development and investment stands out, which aims to promote the entry of foreign capital into the country.
The commitment complements other measures taken by the Government of Cuba in the same direction in recent months, such as the pavilion for Cuban emigrants at the Havana International Fair, the largest business event in the country.
The other three thematic panels of the conference are perspectives on the country’s relationship with its emigrants, their communications with the country, and culture as identity, the organization explained.
The Cuban Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bruno Rodríguez, stressed that the Government’s “will” is to “build a respectful and civilized relationship” with the United States. The Cuban Foreign Minister criticized that Washington “lacks the political will to move in that direction.”
The Cuban Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bruno Rodríguez, stressed that the “will” of the Government is to “build a respectful and civilized relationship” with the United States
“During 2015, 2016 and 2017 we demonstrated that willingness and it was also confirmed that would be something possible and mutually beneficial,” he indicated. Furthermore, he said that the conference “is a fortunate and unequivocal example of the irreversible strengthening of the ties between Cuba and its nationals abroad.”
Cuba is mired in a serious economic crisis with no signs of recovery in the short or medium term due to the combination of the pandemic, the tightening of US sanctions and decisions on national economic and monetary policy.
The shortage of basic products (food, medicine and fuel), rampant inflation, partial dollarization of the economy and frequent blackouts have led many to consider leaving the country in the face of uncertainty and lack of prospects.
So far this year, more than 57,000 Cubans have received parole to legally enter the United States, out of the hundreds of thousands who have requested it in the 11 months that this immigration mechanism has been in force.
In addition, some 110,000 Cubans were intercepted entering the United States irregularly between January and September of this year, according to official statistics.
In 2022, more than 313,000 Cubans arrived by land in the US and several thousand arrived by sea (and were mostly returned). An additional tens of thousands of Cubans went primarily to Spain, Mexico and other Latin American countries.
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