The Positive Side of Cuba’s Migratory Crisis

Irina Echarry

Cubanos descansando en Costa Rica cerca de la frontera con Nicaragua.
Cubans resting in Costa Rica near the Nicaraguan border.

HAVANA TIMES — The Cuban government has had no choice but to televise a migratory conflict involving its own citizens. This time around, we aren’t seeing Syrians fleeing from NATO bombings or Haitians taking to the sea in precarious rafts, nor Africans flocking to Europe’s borders in search of a better life.

No. Now, the government has had to acknowledge the existence of thousands of Cubans who decided to leave behind their relatives, friends and everything they know, risking their lives in a journey that doesn’t always have a happy ending. The adventure may begin and end with a plane, but between the two airports, uncertainty reigns supreme. These migrants must cross jungles, use any means of land or sea transportation and evade the border patrols of several countries. Of course, Cuban authorities aren’t saying any of this so directly, but, after so many years of (free?) access to education, people can draw their own conclusions.

The situation facing these Cubans who have decided to immigrate to the United States through Central America is painful and maddening. They are exposed to the mistreatment of the unscrupulous people who use them and the manipulation of Cuba’s “sister” nations.

This avalanche of confusion and anxiety, however, has also brought us something positive. The Cubans stranded on the border between Costa Rica and Nicaragua carried signs showing their demands. They demanded a transit visa, to continue on their way towards the United States. It may seem like a trifle, after seeing so many similar news items around the world. But, as we know, even such a timid protest is something prohibited in Cuba.

When it was announced that, as of December 1, Cuban citizens wishing to travel to Ecuador would be required to apply for a visa, many headed to the Ecuadorian Embassy in Cuba with clear demands. Among other things, they said: “We have thousands of dollars at stake, give those of us who bought a ticket prior to this date a visa or give us back our money.”

Of course, we are dealing with personal interests: reaching the United States or not losing large sums of money. But I have to admit that seeing my compatriots demanding something other than “Elian Gonzalez’s return” or the release of the Cuban Five came as a positive surprise.

It is a small step in the long road ahead of us as citizens who awaken. If we continue down this path, we will soon lose our pasivity and, faced with a similar situation, begin to demand, holding signs at Revolution Square, that the government ensure the health and physical integrity of our citizens, no matter where they are, no matter what circumstances took them there.

Who knows, perhaps one day we will force them destine a field hospital – of the kind our government sends to the most inhospitable corners of the Earth – to see to our children, pregnant women and others who, driven against the wall by circumstance, anxiously await the decisions of the politicians.

5 thoughts on “The Positive Side of Cuba’s Migratory Crisis

  • Mr. Goodrich, migration policy favors Cuban migration but it is hardly the reason that drives the waves of people leaving Cuba. The Communist System failed in Cuba and every other country that adopted the Soviet Model. Cuban’s being more stubborn than most kept it longer. The reality is that even at it’s height the suppression of human dignity was too much for many. What will stop the migration will be improved living conditions. Change is underway, for some the end of communism is moving far to slowly.

  • John, you are wrong. Cuban news lies about crop yields in eastern Cuba. They lie about student protests in Spain and elections in Greece. None of this has anything to do with the CAA. Please stop making up things just to criticize the US. If you don’t have anything factual to add, just read the comments of other people who do.

  • You are correct.
    “Castro information minders ” in order to tell the truth of the empire’s attacks on Cuba must take the CAPITALIST CORPORATE news off the satellite feeds and rewrite them.
    It IS the 54 year embargo and the “wet foot-dry foot ” clause of the CAA that is causing economic migration from Cuba.
    It’s a truth that you and the corporate capitalist media cannot, dare not admit.

  • Shutting out the world is getting harder and harder to do by the Cuban media. When my wife worked for the morning news, it was common place in the newsroom to pirate news feed off the satellite and edit out all the video that didn’t fit the Castros’ propaganda and insert a Cuban voiceover that many times recast the news into a pro-Castro news item. I can imagine that it is impossible to edit the news feed from this crisis to meet a pro-Castro agenda. Instead, Castro information minders just lay blame on the US. What else can they do?

  • Earlier, I believe, some had suggested that Cuban media were keeping this quiet. If that was ever true, it is certainly not true today.

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