Cuba: Laugh Now, Cry Later

US President Joe Biden during the Ninth Summit of the Americas. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Carlos Alberto Montaner, Miami, 13 June 2022 — The Ninth Summit of the Americas has ended. The biggest controversy aroused was the (fulfilled) threat by Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador not to attend… if the three remaining – although ruined – Latin American dictatorships, Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua, were not invited. They were not, and the Patron Saint of tyrannies didn’t attend. However, he sent his Foreign Affairs Secretary, a much more likeable character than himself, Marcelo Ebrard. The Americans sighed in relief. They had the best of all possible worlds. AMLO’s government, without AMLO.

But the president of Mexico was not the only one in absence. The presidents of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, the famous “northern triangle” of Central America (famous for its crime rate and its number of exiles) didn’t attend the event either. The Ninth Summit, fortunately, had an exceptional chronicler, Héctor Silva Ávalos for Infobae, the first Argentine digital media.

Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei did not attend the Summit outraged by the accusations of corruption. Nayib Bukele, the Salvadoran, first, because he had made a pact with the gangs known as maras so he could rule the country, and second (damned if you do and damned if you don’t,) because of the mistreatment of the thousands of imprisoned gang members, when they continued murdering people in the streets of the tiny country. (Bukele’s iron fist stance against the gangs has the support of a majority of the population.) As for the president of Honduras, Mrs. Xiomara Castro, wife of the political leader Manuel (Mel) Zelaya, because she feels more comfortable in the proximity of Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua, and because her husband wanted to thank these dictatorships for the favors rendered.

In Mexico, simultaneously with the Los Angeles Summit, the “mother of all marches” is being organized. I remember the origin of that phrase – “the mother of all battles.” It was the spectacle that Saddam Hussein promised if the United States dared to lead the attack after the occupation of Kuwait by the Iraqi army. A German newspaper estimated the number of weapons held by the two contenders and concluded that “the mother of all battles” would probably be won by Saddam Hussein. A few hours were enough for the coalition forces, led by the US, to show that German journalists had underestimated George H. W. Bush (the father of George W. Bush), and General Norman Schwarzkopf, the head of the Armed Forces, during the “so-called” Gulf War. Actually, it was an easy victory.

Many of those who are attempting “the mother of all marches” are Cubans, Venezuelans and those belonging to “the biggest triangle of Central America,” precisely those who don’t have a president to represent them – Salvadorans, Guatemalans and Hondurans. What should be done with them? Of course, let them in and give them “papers” to pay taxes and become citizens as soon as they can. There is nothing more ridiculous than assuming that they are “spies.” The spies enter in a different way. Cubans have been allowed entry at all times and this has been very convenient for the receiving country. About 99.99% come to work. It is not possible to defend freedom and deny them entry when they need it. People don’t leave their land for frivolous reasons or in pursuit of a ridiculous stipend.

Cubans and Venezuelans were recipients of immigrants before 1959 and the 21st century. Cuba experienced a small emigration after World War II. From 1945 to 1955, 35,000 people “left,” but in that same period 211,000 immigrants “arrived.” Fernando Bernal, a diplomat of the revolution, and later an exile, told me that in the Havana consulate in Rome alone there were 11,000 requests to emigrate to the Island. As for Venezuela, what has happened in that country is mind-boggling – from having a growing number of immigrants (Portuguese, Italians and Central Europeans), today they have six million exiles.

Why are they leaving? Essentially, because they have no way of earning a living and lack social mobility. The idea that you can’t improve your quality of life, no matter what you do, is a spur to leave. The type of political regime in the abstract only matters to a minimum of people. If the US wants to restore social mobility in Cuba and Venezuela, it has to overthrow the regime that hinders it. Otherwise, it’s laugh now, cry later.


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