Obama’s failed Cuba policy leads to increase in Cubans fleeing the island

Intrepid reporter Sarah Rumpf in The Capitolist:

Renewed U.S. – Cuba diplomacy not helping Cuban people; number of refugees increases

balseros rafters

August 14 will mark the one-year anniversary since Secretary of State John Kerry went to Havana, Cuba to preside over the official reopening of the American embassy, followed by a visit by President Barack Obama this past March. The Obama administration has proudly touted the thawing of diplomatic relations with Cuba, but it’s been a failure by a very visible metric: the number of Cubans fleeing the island nation to come to the United States.

So far this fiscal year (since October 1, 2015), 44,353 Cubans came to the U.S., a figure that is already higher than the 40,115 Cubans who arrived during fiscal year 2015, reports el Nuevo Herald (in Spanish). This figure includes those who traveled through airports, by sea, or by land — those in the latter category usually start in Ecuador or Guyana, before making their way up through Mexico.

This recent surge of Cuban immigration actually started during the prior fiscal year. The 40,115 Cuban immigrants during fiscal year 2015 nearly doubled the 23,752 who arrived during fiscal year 2014.

The number of Cubans who made their exodus by sea is also showing a substantial increase: 5,485 so far during fiscal year 2016 (since October 1, 2015), compared to 4,473 during the entire fiscal year 2015.

The six Cubans shown in the video below were lucky. They arrived in Miami all in relatively good health, and can be seen smiling and hugging, and posing for photos with tourists. One man is overheard happily talking on a cell phone: “Estamos in South Beach!” (We’re in South Beach!”)

They’re not all so lucky.

The immigration figures are even more stark when the peril of the journey is considered. A mere 90 miles separate Florida and Cuba, but the Cubans making the journey are invariably traveling in homemade vessels that struggle in the open seas. The length of the journey is unpredictable, and Cuban refugees are often rescued dehydrated, starving, and severely sunburned. Add in sharks and the prevalence of hurricanes and other severe weather, and it’s an incredibly hazardous trip, which many Cuban refugees attempt multiple times before successfully making it to American shores.

AP_elian_gonzales_raid_01_jef_150421_4x3_992It’s impossible to calculate how many Cubans have died attempting to get to the United States, but there are countless news reports of Cuban refugees where some or all of the group don’t survive the journey. One of the most famous was the mother of Elián González, who drowned along with ten others as they were trying to cross the Florida straits in a small aluminium boat with a faulty engine. González was originally placed with relatives in Miami but was soon put in the middle of an international custody battle and was taken from his relatives’ home by federal agents in a much-criticized early morning raid.

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1 thought on “Obama’s failed Cuba policy leads to increase in Cubans fleeing the island”

  1. It’s not a failed policy, just as Fidel Castro did not “betray the revolution.” Cuba’s freedom and welfare were never the goal or intent of either man; both were out to serve and benefit themselves, which they did.

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