HAVANA TIMES – One of my first memories dates from 1980, when I was not yet five. In the Havana tenements where I lived the shouts of several neighbors captured my attention and I looked out into the hallway. A large group was shouting insults at a young man who had decided to emigrate through the port of Mariel. Forever engraved in my memory is that explosion of curse words and livid faces.
Now we are experiencing another stampede, but unlike those years, when the Soviet bear sent substantial resources to Cuba, the official pickets don’t have eggs to throw against the doors of those who want to escape the country, nor paint with which to smear their walls with slogans. Instead, the authorities seem eager for the social pressure cooker to be alleviated and new emigres to be added to the list of those who send remittances to the island.
On this occasion, instead of opting to open a pier for all those who would like to come to look for their family or lifting the closure of the borders so that thousands of precarious rafts could cross the Straits of Florida, as happened in 1994, officialdom has come up with a formula that kills many birds with one stone. Thanks to the complicity of the political ally Daniel Ortega, it was announced this week that Cubans do not need a visa to enter Nicaragua.
The Central American country thus becomes the hope of all those who can no longer endure the material hardships and the lack of freedom. But Managua is not the final destination, just a first step to embark on the route to the southern border of the United States. The Plaza of the Revolution is well aware of these expectations and estimates that in a few months thousands of its citizens will crowd those border points demanding to enter.
With the move it has just made, the Cuban regime ensures Joe Biden will very soon have a headache, along with a great internal discussion due to the considerable increase in the number of migrants coming from this island. While, by the way, freeing the Island from the most dissatisfied and rebellious, those who might star in the next social explosion like the one that occurred on July 11.
But mass departures are a double-edged sword. The US Administration may see the matter very differently from what Havana projects, and the escape of thousands of Cubans would also have many effects on an already aging society. If, over the next few months, this Island loses a part of its young people, its professionals and those with enough self-esteem to believe that they can prosper in a competitive environment, not only will a democratic change be delayed, but it will also postpone the economic recovery and development of the entire country.
Toying with migratory alchemy can also bring other bitter surprises for Castroism.