Do the Hijackings and Raftings Mean Cuba Sucks?

Adding to the previous post about three guys who tried to hijack a boat from Cuba to the States:It should not be assumed that the hijackings reflect some desperate impulse of Cubans to flee an oppressive Castroan regime.

Thousands of people travel internationally out of virtually every country, every single day; so that in itself is not evidence of anything sinister about the country of departure. If every country that has ever had somebody leave it is a dictatorship, then every country is a dictatorship. Cubans have various reasons for traveling outside Cuba, and these reasons are not any more evident from the simple fact that they are leaving than it is with any of the other thousands that are doing it in other places.

Cubans turn to rafts and hijackings to do their leaving because the U.S. won’t grant them travel visas. It won’t even fill its own visa quotas for Cuban emigrees/visitors.

As Juan Antonio Blanca explains in his book, “Cuba: Talking About Revolution”:

“In 1984, the State Dept. agreed to allow up to 20, 000 Cubans a year to come to the United States…But the United States didn’t live up to that agreement. It interpreted it as meaning that they could allow from one person a year up to 20, 000 a year. And between 1984 and 1992, instead of granting visas to 160, 000 Cubans, the US had only granted visas to only about 8, 000.”

“Thousands of people have permission from the Cuban government to leave, but no US visas. So this creates a very difficult internal dynamic that forces people to leave in rafts, at great risk to their lives. It is a manipulative and cruel way for the US to make Cuba look as though it is stopping people from leaving and forcing them to risk their lives on the high seas, when it is really US immigration policy. And these people who get to the US through these very dramatic and risky methods are treated as heroes when they arrive, but people who want to travel through normal means and take a plane to Miami are denied their visas.”

“Even visas for temporary trips to the United States are often rejected on the grounds that the applicants may want to stay permanently in Miami…My own case is an example. When I was invited on a national speaking tour to the US in 1993, I was given the visa literally 12 hours before I was supposed to get on the plane. It makes the planning of such trips extremely difficult.”

Note also (a) the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1996, which permits any Cuban, no matter how they get to the U.S., to become an American citizen. (It is much harder for “dry foot” Mexicans to do that, yet categorically more of them than Cubans even attempt to illegally emigrate.) (b) In the same year The Helms-Burton Act helped consolidate, against Cuba, the toughest sanctions regime in the history of the world, giving Cubans incentives to emigrate which haven’t anything to do with (supposed) Castroan “oppression.”

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