The Only Thing That Interests The Castros About Emigres Is Their Money
The Only Thing That Interests The Castros About Emigres Is Their Money /
Ivan Garcia, Translator: Unstated
They have gone from being persecuted, insulted and accused of being
traitors during the first three decades after the Communist revolution
to becoming the main pipeline for the dollars that prop up the regime.
The story of the Cuban diaspora in the last 53 years is marked by verbal
lynchings, graffiti and artillery attacks of rocks or rotten eggs on the
houses of those who were leaving the country, years in jail for those
who tried to leave, and an irate Fidel Castro at a public trial calling
them "worms, low-lifes and scum."
Taking a plane to Florida or setting off on a rustic craft with a
sailor's compass meant unleashing Castro's implacable fury. During the
1960s would-be emigrés were made to work long hours doing agricultural
work before the government would issue them exit visas.
A letter received from or sent to a relative on the other side of the
pond would prompt an urgent meeting of the trade union or the party, and
the person would be accused of "ideological weakness." Underprivileged
blacks would be intimidated with tales of racism. If they abandoned the
fatherland, the Ku Klux Klan and its dogs, trained to eat Negroes, would
mercilessly tear them apart.
According to the Castro-controlled media, the first wave of emigrés were
bourgeoisie, businessmen, misfits or people who had earned their money
taking advantage of the poor. Later they were low-lifes,
good-for-nothings, convicts, prostitutes and faggots incapable of
becoming examples of the New Man in an "unparalleled society, the
threshold of heaven on earth."
After the fall of the Berlin Wall Cuban professionals and athletes
defected the first chance they got. The offensive language has now been
shelved, but acts of repudiation have been revived as a weapon against
Those who leave Cuba are still written off by the official media. There
are no reports or in-depth articles about achievements of Cubans
overseas.On the island there was no impact from the two home runs,from
both sides of the plate in the same inning, by Kendrys Morales. Of the
awards and prizes given to writers and poets in exile, not a word has
As Rubén Martínez Villena said, they are only useful once they are dead.
LikeCabrera Infante or Celia Cruz. The nation's press has not reported
on an article written by prominent academics at the University of
Florida, whose data and statistics provide evidence of the strength of
the Cuban exile community.
When leafing through Juventude Rebelde (Rebel Youth), nowhere will you
find any mention that in 2011 the country received more than two billion
dollars in remittances. Cuban Americans spent a similar amount during
vacation trips to Cuba and in endless purchases of consumer goods for
their impoverished relatives.
Radio Rebelde says nothing about a study by the Pew Hispanic Center
which reports that the median income for Cubans in the United States
over the age of sixteen is $26,478, greater than the estimated $21,488
for the rest of the Hispanic community.
It is undeniable that, thanks to the Refugee Adjustment Act*, members of
the Cuban diaspora enjoy privileges that other Latino immigrants do not.
But the gains they have achieved are undeniable. They are leaders of
important companies, are a force behind Miami's growth and vitality, and
constitute a handful of politicians with Cuban backgrounds. Eleven
delegates to the Florida legislature are Cuban.
The official press maintains a low and ambiguous profile with respect to
the exile community. Foolish rhetoric would have us believe that people
emigrate only to get a car and a well-furnished, air-conditioned
apartment. Yes, people leave in order to have decent salaries, satellite
antennae and unrestricted access to the internet.
But they also leave the country to be reborn as free men. Hold a
plebiscite among the more than two million exiles and, I am quite
certain,the results would confirm that a majority do not want to retain
the Castros in power.
The regime knows this. It is aware of the danger that closer ties and a
loosening of emigration restrictions would pose. The exiles' economic
power and business know-how would put an end to the shoddy workmanship
and habitual idleness of Cuban factories. They would become a potential
threat to the status quo of the governing class, which now controls all
reserves of hard currency.
To the Castros the only thing about emigration that interests them is
the money. Exiles can come visit Cuba and spend a lot. Every time they
bring in more dollars. But they do not like them too much. There can be
no investments in strategic economic sectors. It's better to keep
burdening them with brutal tourism taxes and let them send packages to
the island. Castro has no desire to treat emigrés fairly.
They will never allow overseas Cubans to hold political office or vote
in elections. It is very difficult to change this mentality. These
autocrats have always viewed the diaspora as a time bomb, a bunch of
"worms," a legion of traitors.
When exiles learn how to use their economic power as a weapon, it will
force the government to change the outdated dialog and the anachronistic
laws. In the meantime, it needs them only to fill the collection box.
Photo: Taken from the Gold Alert website.
*Translator's note: A U.S. law, passed in 1966 with amendments added
later, that allows Cuban refugees to apply for permanent resident status
after living in the U.S. for one year.
September 1 2012