The Cuban Adjustment Act in US Media Campaigns

By Fernando Ravsberg

Living off of Uncle Sam in Cuba.

HAVANA TIMES — The US media campaign against Cuban émigrés hasn’t stopped. Now, Cuban immigrants are accused of not behaving like political refugees, abusing welfare benefits and acting like delinquents who are “pillaging America.”

The newspapers say that in Miami Dade County, where 24% of the population was born in Cuba – 73, 72 and 59 percent of those arrested for healthcare fraud, cargo theft and the trafficking of marihuana, respectively, are Cuban.

An investigation conducted by a Florida newspaper concluded that Cuban-Americans are responsible for half of the county’s credit card scams and insurance frauds, and that 77 percent of fuel thefts can be chalked up to them.

Either someone lied before or is doing so now. How is it that the prosperous community of Cuban political exiles became a gang of freeloaders and delinquents who take advantage of that great country’s generosity, overnight?

The repeated assaults by the US press function as a kind of artillery attack prior to the offensive. Recall how the announcement made on December 17 was preceded by eight NYT editorials asking Obama to do what he was already doing behind the curtain.

Now, all cannons seem to be aiming at the Cuban Adjustment Act, which is being presented as the root of all evil, from Medicare fraud through Cuban senior citizens who retire in Miami to drug trafficking.

They are seeking public support and have already secured it around the nation, where most US citizens feel that immigration affects their finances. Now, they are looking for the approval of those who live in Florida, where most Cuban émigrés reside.

It would come as no surprise if US citizens supported the campaign in Florida, where Cubans call the shots, even though it is not their country. What is surprising is that they are also securing the support of émigrés, their political representatives and their media.

Cuban-American congress people are advancing bills aimed at modifying the Cuban Adjustment Act, while the New Herald and Diario de las Americas reproduce the accusatory articles published by the Sun Sentinel, the spearhead of this media campaign.

It’s curious to see how some émigrés also support the criticisms levelled at their own community. It would seem they are not aware of the background, of why the US press is only now focusing on a problem that has in fact existed for decades.

Reading the comments by some Cuban émigrés, I get the feeling they actually believe the Cuban Adjustment Act stems from the kind-heartedness of the United States. If that were truly the case, we would see a similar legislation for Africans, who live far worse off than Cubans.

No country’s immigration policies are based, out of kindness, but on national interests, on political and economic reasons. It is no accident that these privileges should be afforded Cubans alone, when violent dictatorships afflicted many other countries in the region.

Washington wanted to demonstrate that Cuban émigrés were people fleeing political persecution by the communist dictatorship, and the Cuban government played into that strategy, treating economic émigrés as though they were enemies of the system.

Cuban-Americans are presented in the worst possible light to justify the elimination of the Cuban Adjustment Act.

The political maneuvering of both governments is what led to the Cuban Adjustment Act, which offered émigrés important privileges. It is one of the few advantages that the more than 50 years of bilateral conflict has afforded the average Cuban.

Now, the leaders of the two countries no longer need the Cuban Adjustment Act and could well agree to eliminate it. Washington’s strategy is no longer being dictated by a strong, Miami-based Cuban community, and Havana does not want to continue losing professionals and athletes.

Some Cuban-American congress people suggest attaching restrictions to the legislation, so that it may continue to function as a useful political instrument. However, they accept that émigrés take advantage of the law, helping to apply pressure in the direction of eliminating it altogether.

Despite Washington’s statements to the contrary, everything seems to indicate that the days of the Cuban Adjustment Act are numbered. What’s truly ironic is that it will fall with all of the support – conscious and not- of most Cubans of all political tendencies.

3 thoughts on “The Cuban Adjustment Act in US Media Campaigns

  • Well USA, what are you complaining about? the “gusanos” are good capitalist. You wanted them, you got them.

  • My local Florida newspaper has been carrying a series of very long articles on people coming from Cuba, drawing U.S. benefits for Cubans only and repatriating that money .
    Huge insurance and other frauds are also involved .
    Congress would have to repeal the embargo to stop the wet foot-dry-foot flood and the now huge flow of legal and illegal U.S. funds to Cuba.
    Were I running the Cuban government, I would set up an entire agency to recruit, train (training in insurance fraud, getting as much welfare as possible etc) and send thousands of Cubans operatives to the U.S. specifically to get as much money back to Cuba while the WFDF law is still in effect .
    The immoral US embargo has cost the Cuban society billions. This is a great way to get a good deal of that wealth back.
    It beats the U.S. method of killing people for their resources.

  • It won’t be going without progress on other fronts. The politics are complex on all things Cuba.

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