The Unknown of the Diaspora / 14ymedio, Eliecer Avila

14ymedio, Elicer Avila, 13 January 2015 – Cuban civil society is often questioned, as are opposition groups, due to their apparent inability to join the masses and pressure the government for necessary changes.

All of these questions are not without some truth, and a doubt comes to mind that I would like to share. I am referring to the fact that the two million Cubans (between emigrants and descendents) who live outside the country have not found an effective way to participate in the politics of the nation.

In theory, this group of Cubans has everything that the internal opposition lacks in order to have a major influence: full access to communications and information, freedom of movement, the right of association and assembly, and, above all, it has an economic power that could compete with that of the government itself.

On the other hand, the remittances that the Cuban migration sends to the country every year constitute one of the top three sources of the gross domestic product. If we accept the maxim that “He who holds the purse strings holds the power,” then it would correspond that those living abroad should have a wide representation in the parliament for being the most efficient and productive workers in the system, as well as for being the largest union. Thus, we could at least say, “He who brings, participates.” But this is not the case.

Quite the contrary, the measures usually taken by the government tend to directly affect the interest of the emigrants, and at times don’t help their families. The new customs regulations, the cost of the paperwork to enter the country, and the treatment that often borders on disrespect, are some examples of this.

To make matters worse, the new Foreign Investment Law* also excludes them, depriving them of the opportunity to contribute with their investments and their talent to the development of the country. And it is a tremendous shame. I know that outside the country there is human capital of incalculable professional value, with experience in every kind of business and, above all with immense desires to see their native land move towards progress.

How is our emigration organized to defend its natural rights in this new scenario? Will it support in a major way a civil society and a responsible opposition that has a more inclusive vision of the nation? For me, this remains an unknown.

13 January 2015