The exodus from the stateless nation
The exodus from the stateless nation
JUAN ANTONIO BLANCO | Miami | 2 Dic 2015 – 2:45 pm.
The flow of thousands of Cubans to the United States across several
Latin American borders belies recent narratives about changes in Cuban
society. Why this latest exodus if the conflict between Cuba and the
United States is allegedly being overcome? Why are more and more Cubans
leaving for any place they can? The number of those arriving in the
United States alone rose more than 70% in 2015.
Without identifying the root cause of the problem (a longstanding
Stalinist regime) and without realizing that the main conflict is of an
internal nature (a governance system at odds with the interests of the
population) this situation is inexplicable.
The nation was deprived of its patria, its homeland
We are dealing with a State that, from the outset, gradually stripped
the Cuban nation of its sovereignty and rights. The nation saw its
patria, its homeland, taken away. The country was appropriated by the
State, which, in turn, was monopolized by a single political party, at
the service of the Castro family’s interests.
From early on Fidel Castro derided as “stateless” those who fled into
exile, although they often did so only to reinitiate their political and
armed struggle. It was a derogatory nickname – gusanos (worms) – with
which he sought to discredit his opponents. But it was precisely the
regime that he established in Cuba that wrenched from Cubans their
homeland. Under Castro being an apátrida, a stateless citizen, was not
an option, but an inevitable plight. One in exile could carry the
homeland in his heart – in his memories and intentions – but on the
island the concept had been gutted of meaning. Those who live on the
island, or off it, are de facto apátridas, whether they realize it or
not. The Cuban nation is not governed by a legitimate rule of law. Under
these circumstances the patria is merely a sentimental condition.
The tens of thousands who attempt to hastily relocate their pursuits of
happiness to other countries are not mere “citizens” of a nation
suffering a temporary recession, as occurs in others. They are the
latest to flee from a basic internal conflict between the State and the
interests of its people.
It is people – without the rights of citizens – who live on an island
that they cannot consider their homeland, because they are unable, as a
nation, to exercise sovereignty over it. They cannot change their
government in the next elections, promote alternative policies in the
press, start businesses, invest in the national economy, organize to
protect vulnerable sectors, or file complaints with independent courts.
Under these circumstances of structural violence and political
repression it is impossible to define a project for society or undertake
independent personal ventures.
The Cuban Adjustment Act is not the main cause
This new Cuban exodus was triggered, firstly, by the prolonged
appropriation of their sovereignty and rights; and, secondly, by the
people’s dismay with the fact that the situation shows no signs of
improving, even following the warming of relations with the United
States. This latest letdown and disappointment – not the Cuban
Adjustment Act – is the main cause of Cubans’ most recent flight to
anywhere they can relocate abroad.
The Cuban elite constantly reiterates that, regardless of how its
relations with its neighbor unfold, it is unwilling to grant freedoms,
rights, or to recognize the nation’s sovereignty over the future course
of Cuban society. Under these circumstances, the imperturbable course of
Washington’s new policy tends to validate in the people’s eyes the
inevitability of the sovereignty of the State over and against the
Indoctrinated from birth to accept the impossibility of transforming the
status quo, the new US position is now perceived as confirming the
thesis of the Cuban regime’s invincibility. From that perspective it is
logical for them to think that the only option to seek happiness and
help their families lies abroad, whether in Miami, Santo Domingo,
Bogotá, Sydney or Luanda.
Exiles or emigrants?
Their indoctrination, over a period of five decades, in the Cuban
ideological and information bubble prevents many of those participating
in this exodus from being able to see or express the connection between
Cuba’s economic and social circumstances and the political system that
has driven them to undertake their perilous journeys. And this
indoctrination blinds them from recognizing the emigration crisis as a
human rights issue, ignored by the current educational system, and
vigorously refuted by the propaganda apparatus. They are exiles who do
not even realize that they are, referring in Marxist terms to the
evolution of the working-class consciousness. However, the massive waves
of Cuban migrants have come to constitute, over more than half a
century, a tangible manifestation of the population’s rejection of a
regime that stifles its legitimate aspirations and pursuit of happiness.
For them the homeland is not the Cuban State and an island where they
can decide nothing, but their patria chica, or “little homeland,”
composed of the relatives and friends they try to help. The homeland is
interpreted in an emotional and personal way, not a legal one.
For those participating in this new exodus, “Cuba” means a handful of
loved ones, traditions, streets, places, memories, culinary and musical
preferences. A number of these Cubans in exile cannot understand why
these people say that they will only return to Cuba when they are dead,
when they are detained in Nicaragua or Mexico, but after reaching the
United States and attaining resident status there, they travel back to
the island. Those Cubans still believe – and even more so after 17
December and the on-going national defiance – that the status quo under
Castro is invincible. Even when living abroad they are careful not to
criticize the Cuban Government before strangers or in public media for
fear that its intelligence apparatus will find out and prevent them from
visiting the island where they were born. Their commitment to liberation
is limited to the patria chica of family and friends. It is that
homeland which they will strive to free from poverty, with remittances
and packages, even as the island’s parasitic state seizes a portion of
these resources, with its excessive Customs enforcement and astronomical
prices for the products on the retail market that it controls.
Likely a strategic mistake
There remain other questions. What was discussed with regards to
immigration when the US Homeland Security representative visited Havana,
and what secret agreements were reached when Raúl Castro and the
president of Mexico met immediately after those conversations? Why did
the Cuban government then ask Ecuador to make an exception to its open
door policy, and require visas from Cubans? What are they seeking as
they ask, at the same time, Nicaragua to block the passage of those who
had already begun their journey to the United States?
The lifting of the Cuban Adjustment Act is certainly not Raúl Castro’s
objective in orchestrating this crisis in Costa Rican territory. That
demand was not even included among the five points he presented to
Washington as conditions for the normalization of relations. During
previous migration crises the law has served as an escape valve for the
exasperated, and a source of millions of dollars in remittances. We must
assume that the true objective, despite the rhetoric, is something else.
One credible hypothesis is that Castro is preparing to fine tune a
“weapon of mass migration,” concentrating it in Cuba and aiming it
straight at Florida, as an instrument of blackmail to obtain every
possible concession from Washington before Obama leaves the White House.
If this is the case, it may prove to be a strategic mistake.
First, in an election year it would amount to an action against a US
president who has promoted rapprochement between the two countries (as
was Mariel for Carter in 1980, or the planes for Clinton in 1996) and
undermine the aspirations of the Democratic Party in the November 2016
Secondly, Havana should be aware that today people continue to protest
by leaving, but if they were not able to, their desperation might spur
them to develop a consciousness as citizens – and to finally take back
Source: The exodus from the stateless nation | Diario de Cuba –