By land and sea, but especially by sea, a new exodus of Cubans to the United States is underway.
Economic conditions in Cuba are getting worse. Also, it is easier to leave the island than it has been before. Experts think the uptick in refugees is just the beginning.
Efforts to get to the U.S. by sea are the most dramatic. Scenes remind viewers of the Mariel “rafters” exodus of 1980 and the rafter crisis of 1994.
There was an agreement after 1994. Refugees caught at sea would be sent back to Cuba. Any Cuban who reached the USA border would be allowed to stay. Refugees might also get to Mexico or a Central American country. If they did, and made their way over the border, they could stay in the United States.
Smuggling networks were used during the past 10 years. They were very expensive. Now, Cubans are going back to the sea.
Today’s refugees are much poorer than those of ten years ago. They do not have the money to pay smugglers. Most of the boats they travel in are not seaworthy. There are grisly stories of people dying at sea with their bodies then tossed overboard.
The U.S. imposed many economic restrictions on Cuba after Fidel Castro took power in 1959. At the same time America began a political refugee policy friendly to Cuban refugees fleeing Castro. It is still friendly to Cubans trying to leave the country . It still imposes economic sanctions on the Island.
Thousands of Cubans fled the Island after 1959.Many settled in South Florida. Today, those Cubans and the next generations are well established.
Source: The New York Times October 9, 2014