Cuba’s Machiavellian Use of Migration

Four Cuban migrants cross the Rio Grande in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua (Mexico). (EFE/Luis Torres)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Yunior García Aguilera, Madrid, 25 May 2022 — On June 22, 1990, before the United Nations, Nelson Mandela firmly demanded that the sanctions against Pretoria be maintained. The African leader wondered what mistake had been made to allow a country with apartheid to be seated after the Universal Declaration of Human Rights or the Nuremberg Trials. He strongly urged that the measures not be relaxed until the crime is stopped.

In Cuba we have suffered for decades an ideological apartheid that segregates citizens into two camps: “revolutionaries” and “worms.” Those who have been pigeonholed in the second group have suffered imprisonment, physical and psychological torture, persecution, acts of repudiation, exclusion, censorship, harassment, separation from their jobs or expulsion from their places of study, forced expatriation and even death.

##The historical amnesia that they try to impose on us from the propaganda machine cannot erase horrendous memories such as the shootings, the UMAP (Military Production Aid Units), the ’parameterization’, the sinking of the tugboat March 13 or the combat order of July 11 of last year, where the “revolutionaries” obtained a license to stone, beat or shoot at the demonstrators.

There are testimonies that claim that several public health centers were instructed to deny medical assistance to those they considered “worms.” The irrefutable mark of that apartheid that we suffer is summarized in the phrase that affirms that the streets, the common space, belong only to the ethnic group that carries the revolutionary gene in its cells.

The accession of Miguel Díaz-Canel to the one-party throne has been a huge setback for the aspirations of citizens in areas such as freedom of expression, pluralism, social participation, rights, economic prosperity or democratic changes. Today, a generation without charisma, mediocre to the core, lacking legitimacy or historical weight, clings to the reins of power. The current leadership knows that it no longer has the support of the majority, and the panic of suffering the same fate as Nicolae Ceausescu is reflected on their faces.

That’s why they quickly resort to the club and the gag. That’s why they keep the largest number of political prisoners behind bars in all of Latin America and see young people as a major danger. That’s why they unanimously approve a reactionary, cowardly and medieval Criminal Code. That’s why they include penalties of up to ten years in prison for the crime of treason that not even contemporary monarchies have taken so far.

It’s a fact that the majority in Cuba is already fed up with the dictatorship and want change. Opinion is divided into how and where. Many were optimistic when Obama decided to try a new strategy, defrosting tensions and trying to empower the private sector on the island. Trump returned to ice and aggressive speech. Now Biden zigzags between isolation and the relaxation of sanctions.

But beyond the leaders’ back and forth is a population of 11 million trapped in hopelessness, misery, impotence and fear. That same citizenry that erupted on June 11 today finds no choice but to sell everything, grab a backpack and cross borders. Although the ruling press says with cynicism that Cubans go to Nicaragua to contemplate the lava of the Masaya volcano, we all know that the stampede advances much further north.

The regime, an expert in turning its defeats into victories, has always used migratory waves for a triple purpose. First, the exodus serves as an exhaust valve to release internal pressure. Second, migration crises are used as weapons to put anyone sitting in the White House on the ropes. These frequent exoduses have almost always been the responsibility of Democratic administrations. Lyndon B. Johnson naively believed that the quarter of a million Cubans who left through Camarioca and the Puente Aéreo could return to Cuba in a short time.

Jimmy Carter lost the 1980 elections, among other things, due to the bad press that exaggeratedly reported the exodus of the Mariel Boatlift. Clinton had to set up the Guantanamo Naval Base as a temporary refuge to avoid a collapse in south Florida, during the Rafter Crisis. But the third and most Machiavellian use of migration by the regime is to convert exile into economic investment. Every Cuban who flees becomes a potential sender of hard-currency remittances.

The vaunted national sovereignty is nothing more than a mirage, a kidnapping, a fallacy.

Translated by Regina Anavy

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