With Cubans fleeing by the thousands, communist Cuba faces increased difficulties

Cubans awaiting a transit visa in front of the Panamanian Embassy in Havana, March 2022.

No country can withstand a mass exodus without it having a negative effect, and Cuba is no exception. Over the decades the socialist revolution has forced millions to flee, making matters only worse on the island.

Roberto Alvarez Quiñones explains in Diario de Cuba:

The exodus from Cuba will aggravate hunger and hamper reconstruction

‘This many Cubans have never emigrated in such a short time span, and this should be considered a record on the continent.’

“El último, que apague la farola del Morro” (“Whoever’s the last one to leave, please turn off the lamp in the Morro lighthouse.”) This was a popular phrase in Cuba that I heard many times in Havana in the early 90s, after Castroism’s weaning from its Soviet nurse, which had just died of natural causes.

The phrase, typical of Cuban wit, arose in the face of the flood of Cubans abandoning the country due to the privations of the “Special Period.” Today, more than 30 years later, the expression is timelier than ever in the 63 years of Castroist dictatorship.
In August of 2022 alone, 20,000 Cuban immigrants arrived in the United States illegally, an average of 645 daily. In just 31 days the number of Cubans arrived that can emigrate to the neighboring country annually with passport visas under the agreement between Washington and Havana.

Through June 2022 Washington had granted 13,645 visas to Cuban applicants, and reported that it will deliver 20,000 immigrant visas by the end of the year. That is, in 11 months, between legal and illegal immigrants, 211,515 Cubans have emigrated to the United States, including 134 unaccompanied minors; that’s almost 2% of the total population, at an unusual rate of 641 emigrants daily, or 27 every 60 minutes.

Cuba’s population is shrinking

This many Cubans have never left the country this fast. This should be considered a record on the continent if one takes into account that Cuba is an island and no citizen can just walk out of the country, like Venezuelans fleeing Maduro’s dictatorship can, or those who emigrate illegally from Mexico, Central America and South America.

This trend has devastating consequences for Cuba, both in the immediate future and in the future. To begin with, it aggravates the country’s demographic crisis, where the population is waning rather than increasing. According to the National Office of Statistics and Information (ONEI), in 2021 the population of Cuba was 11,113,215, but in 2016 it was 11,239,224; in other words, in five years Cuba’s total population dropped by 126,009.

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1 thought on “With Cubans fleeing by the thousands, communist Cuba faces increased difficulties”

  1. Most excellent article. Cubans are in general non violent. However, they are not non-violent in a Gandhi type of way. There is plenty of noise, screaming, insults and gesturing. They are neither cold nor hot, neither totally peaceful nor totally violent. This explains why the demonstrations have had little or no effect. The same applied to the Venezuelan demonstrations of a few years ago where the opposition took great pride in declaring their demonstrations non-violent.

    The alternative is to fight. However, fighting involves killing and dying. It is a rather nasty option. We Latins prefer to die slowly over years rather than fight. Of course the other option is to flee. The second of the fight or flight response.

    To flee has been and continues to be the preferred Cuban response. As the article points out, it is the morally attuned, the productive and the talented people that leave. Yes, it slowly drains and weakens the nation. Nevertheless, the communist benefit in the short term from the exodus as the article also points out. This has been the case since the start of the revolution and it continues today.

    The suffering will continue, the exodus will continue, the poverty will increase. Very fascinating to watch. Cuba has not yet reached the starvation of 10 million Ukrainians, nor the killing fields of Cambodia, nor the gulags of Siberia nor the cultural revolution of China. We still got a long way to go before Cuba gets sick of communism.

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