What Makes Cubans Flee, US Sanctions or Failed Policies?

Since 2020, Cuba and Venezuela have contributed to the U.S. migration crisis by 5.8% and 5.5%. (EFE)

By 14ymedio

HAVANA TIMES – Cuban academics Juan Antonio Blanco and Emilio Morales, who preside over the Cuba Siglo 21 organization, criticized on Thursday the content of two letters signed by members of US congress and economists who accuse Democratic Senator Bob Menéndez of using a “false narrative” in his defense of US sanctions against the regimes of Cuba and Venezuela.

Last May, a group of congresspeople led by Democrat Veronica Escobar sent a letter to the White House demanding that the Biden Administration remove sanctions on Cuba and Venezuela    under the pretext that the economic suffocation caused by this measure causes Cubans and Venezuelans to emigrate to the U.S.

Menéndez, who chairs the Foreign Relations Committee, responded by denying that there was a relationship between sanctions and the migratory stampede, which he attributes rather to the lack of human rights and the presence of “brutal dictatorships” that “have destroyed the economies of their countries.”

At the beginning of July, another letter criticizing Menéndez was signed by 50 economists and academics, among them the Pulitzer Prize winner Greg Grandin, repeating  Escobar’s claim. In addition, it alleged that there was “no serious investigation” that supported the senator’s arguments.

Two articles published on the Cuba Siglo 21 website by Blanco and Morales have now been added to the discussion. Both academics discredit the proposal of the members of congress and economists, arguing that the regimes of Cuba and Venezuela are the “causes of the deplorable socioeconomic situation” of both countries.

“We must start by saying that Cuba and Venezuela are not, by far, the main countries that contribute migrants in this crisis that has occurred since Joe Biden entered the White House,” says Morales, who offers data from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office to support his argument.

Cuba and Venezuela occupy the fourth and fifth place respectively among the countries that send migrants. Since 2020, both have contributed to the migration crisis by just 5.8% and 5.5%, while Mexico (with 2,323,278 migrants), Honduras (690,888) and Guatemala (683,031) together represent 49.5% of the migrants who reached the U.S. in the same period. However, these three countries receive funding and investments from Washington and are not subject to embargoes or sanctions, which shows that blaming the U.S. sanctions for the exodus is a fallacy.

The causes of Cubans going into exile, Morales says, must be sought in government repression. The stampede “broke out after  the dictator Miguel Díaz-Canel gave the order to repress the demonstrators on July 11, 2021,” he explains. The academics ignoring, in their letter to Menéndez, the effect of surveillance, fear and police violence on the Island turns them, in the eyes of Morales, into “goodies” who comfortably ignore the reality of the country and display, at the very least, their “intellectual shallowness.”

The problem of Cuba and Venezuela does not come from US sanctions, but from the dictatorships that for decades “have internally destroyed their respective economies with the unpunished theft of state resources and policies of control that prevent their citizens from generating wealth,” Morales insists in his article.

Several examples offered by the academic refer to the Cuban economy that – even analyzing the official figures – is in the red. Morales says that it is enough to look at the income from the nine most important items of the Island’s economy – remittances, tourism, mining, medical services, tobacco, sugar, fish, seafood and agricultural products – to verify that they have been in progressive degradation since 2013.

“This decline is not due to the embargo, nor to the sanctions implemented by the Donald Trump administration against the Cuban regime, but to a regime with totalitarian political and economic institutions to which is added the ineptitude of the power elite and their government,” he summarizes.

For Morales, the $7 billion in food that Cuba imported from the U.S. between 2001 and 2023 shows that the embargo does not have much impact on the Cuban economy, but it is used by the regime to justify the shortages.

“In the case of Venezuela, something similar happens. The deterioration of the Venezuelan economy is not due to the sanctions imposed by the Donald Trump Administration, but to the embezzlement and corruption of Chavismo, which led Venezuela to financial bankruptcy,” he added.

The conclusions of Morales and Blanco are identical and defend the position of Menéndez, who insists on intensifying his position towards the island’s regime. Both ask the academics who signed the letters against the senator to demand, rather, the return of freedoms to the citizens of Cuba and Venezuela, their right to generate wealth and to express themselves freely. Otherwise, they conclude, their position makes them accomplices of two of the most criminal dictatorships on the American continent.

Translated by Regina Anavy for Translating Cuba

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4 thoughts on “What Makes Cubans Flee, US Sanctions or Failed Policies?

  • Olga, you’re addressing your comment to me but I am not going to take up against all that you mention because it’s not for me to be refuting all of your myriad points.
    I would just say that you seem to be entirely under the spell of US propaganda.
    You have been led to believe that the USA is some kind of democratic paradise (perhaps this is understandable from your particular perspective).
    In my humble opinion I would say that the USA is a wonderful country (just as Cuba is). It’s very powerful and successful (just like China) but the USA ain’t in a million years a good example of a democratic country.
    But you just keep on believing the hype if thats what gets you through the day.
    Maybe there is something deep within the Cuban psyche that is prone to sucking up to BS propaganda. But then again perhaps its best not to stereotype. And I have dear Cuban family and friends who do not get suckered into believing in any kind of BS of any type from any side.
    Regarding Cuba’s involvement in Africa. As I have said previously, I would go along with Nelson Mandela’s opinion rather than yours. He was African and you ain’t.
    Regarding your final point – Cuba doesn’t need US sabotage. I would agree. Cuba has never needed US sabotage. Neither does anywhere else. The Cuban Government is well capable of screwing stuff up without any assistance. US sabotage merely gives the Cuban Government a relative moral high ground in the eyes of much of the world.

  • Nick, China and Vietnam have a complete history and needless to say idiosyncrasy China or Vietnam never stole American citizens properties. But even North Korea that had the same embargo that Cuba and do not receive remittances certain thing run with efficient because the Idiosyncrasy But what you should ask yourself is Why Venezuela one of the riches countries in the world with not embargo and Nicaragua economies are in ruins today by adopting Cuban policies ? Cuba could have been better today if they had use all the money that the Soviet Union sent then instead using it to foment pockets of terrorists throughout Latin America Africa and the Middle East, if the dead king would have closed tourism as the dictator castro did because he did not want the cubans to have contact with the free world, if never has took Cuban real money in circulation when he took over and gives back Cubans a worthless piece of paper., he never had anyone that challenges his crazy egotistical projects so the soil in Cuba are damaged for the 1970 sugar harvest crazy project or the 1967 Cordon de La Havana when the king decided to plant coffee trees around the outskirts of Havana ignoring that coffee only grows in mountainous areas using big part of the Cuban labor force in this disaster cutting down almost all the fruit trees that supplied the demand of the entire province of Havana, and now ended up buying fruit from the Dominican Republic and sugar from France on the whims of a dictator. They destroyed the Cuban fishing fleet and in Cuba today the fish is exported from Spain. With administrators like these in the last 60 years the Cuban dictatorship doesn’t need American “Sabotage”

  • Interesting article and topic.
    Clearly the USA has tried to sabotage Cuba’s chances of being successful over these decades. It would be absurd to suggest otherwise. US politicians perceived the Cuban Revolution to be a threat during the Cold War. Therefore they attempted to strangle it. Continued strangulation wins FLA electoral college votes. So it goes on and on.
    Way back in the day US politicians perceived the Haitian Revolution to be a threat due to the importance the slavery in the US economy. Therefore they sabotaged Haiti’s chances of being successful.
    Many would say that Haiti has never really recovered from their strangulation.
    However US sabotage is only half the story.
    China (even the likes of Kissinger and Nixon knew that China was too big too sabotage) – highly successful economy.
    Vietnam (we all know how US attempt to sabotage turned out) – highly successful economy.
    Both these one party states latterly embraced differing forms of capitalism.
    I’m no big fan of one party states but if China and Vietnam can have successful economies why can’t Cuba?
    US sabotage plays a part. But ultimately if you have a one party state, that one party needs to show some economic competence.
    If they don’t follow something like the China/Vietnam model, the one party in Cuba will run out of luck.

  • Only a fool can deny that young Cubans leave their homeland because they seek freedom of action, and opportunity for a better life, where work leads to progress and where opportunity for a better life abounds. None of those whom I have met here in Canada – and they are numerous, seek to return to live in Cuba, but all miss their families, their friends and their culture.

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