The Official Cuban Press Criticizes the Lack of Public Data on Migration

The Cienfuegos newspaper 5 de Septiembre mentions the figures published in the independent press, without giving credit

Humanitarian parole was approved for 69,000 Cubans in its first year of operation / 14ymedio

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 12 April 2024 –The immigration stampede faced by Cuba is no secret to anyone, not even to the official press, which this Friday published an unusual article on the subject. The Cienfuegos newspaper 5 de Septiembre lashes out at the authorities for the “scarce public data” about the exodus and even alludes to figures published by the independent press, although it progressively lowers the tone by attributing all the evils to the blockade*.

According to the newspaper, the data to which it has had access “indicate that today more than 11% of the Cuban population is outside the Island. Counting the migratory wave unleashed from 2021 to date, the press reports indicate that in a period of 18 months, about 400,000 Cubans were intercepted at the U.S. border.”

The real figure, about 425,000, has been disseminated by the independent press, which the official newspaper avoids mentioning and which has a precedent: the number of femicides recorded by observatories and independent media in 2023, which was cited by Periódico 26 as coming from “unofficial sources.”

The data “indicate that today more than 11% of the Cuban population is outside the Island.”

To the illegal entries through the southern border of the United States are added, in addition to those who migrated to other countries such as Spain or Mexico and the more than 69,000 Cubans approved for humanitarian parole in the United States in only the first year of that program’s operation, figures that the official newspaper does not mention either, since it prefers to focus on the “emotional damage” of migration.

“Apart from the worrying scenario that derives from such figures for the fate of the nation, we are actually talking about something more than numbers. Every digit is our parents, siblings, cousins, uncles, aunts, partners, friends,” it says.

As for the causes of the migratory wave, the newspaper points out what the ruling Center for Demographic Studies defines with an understatement: “a crisis of expectations: the perception of an uncertain future.” The causes of that uncertainty are “the search for better wages and living conditions, desire for personal fulfillment” and – “to a much lesser extent, political issues.”

However, the article omits other fundamental causes pointed out by specialists and by the emigrants themselves, such as the lack of freedoms of all kinds, which makes life unsustainable on the Island.

In line with the official version on migration, which explains that migrants come and go, 5 de Septiembre insists that “many still anchor their dreams of prosperity and growth on Cuban soil.” But, it emphasizes “the effects of the suffocating U.S. economic blockade and the incentive for irregular departures through the Cuban Adjustment Act, along with the severe internal difficulties – largely derived from the blockade – for the migratory behavior that Cuba is currently experiencing.”

“Faced with the widespread idea that the only way to breathe is to leave, the challenge of generating opportunities prevails”

The question “How does the heart of a country beat with so many children scattered around the world?” which the newspaper itself poses, is answered only half-heartedly: “Faced with the widespread idea that the only way to breathe is to leave, the challenge of generating opportunities prevails (…), without having stones thrown or abuses.”

Despite the unusual text, officialdom strives to silence the exodus, which is increasing. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office recorded the arrival of 22,946 Cubans in January. The figure is almost double the 11,909 that arrived by air, land and sea in January 2023. In the first four months of the fiscal year alone, which began in October, 86,139 Cubans have entered the United States.

In 2022, the National Institute of Statistics of Spain revealed that 198,639 people born in Cuba then lived in Spain, a figure that exceeds by more than 30,000 the number in 2020. The figures from 2023 are not yet available.

Other reports reveal that, before investing their money in the Island, emigrants prefer to dedicate their assets to trying to get their relatives out of the country. In 2023, it is estimated that the diaspora spent between 1.8 and 2.2 billion dollars in the procedures and the costs of transporting and maintaining those who emigrated to the United States. On the other hand, Cubans abroad sent remittances of only just under 1.973 billion, the same amount as in 2010 and a decrease of 47% compared to the 3.716 billion of 2019.

Translator’s note: There is, in fact, no US ’blockade’ on Cuba, but this continues to be the term the Cuban government prefers to apply to the US embargo. Originally imposed in 1962, the embargo, although modified from time to time, is still in force.

Translated by Regina Anavy


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