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America is a great country to live in. Probably the best in the world. We can criticize their foreign policies, the ignorance and arrogance of their tourists, their deficient health care, the ubiquitous gun-related tragedies, and every other issue Michael Moore criticizes. But the truth is, you have to be blind to deny the powerful advantages of living in the U.S.
The U.S. is not the entire world, although it can be easy to forget that it’s not when you’re there. Many radical Cuban émigrés insist that the search for democracy and freedom was the fundamental reason for their departure, in which communism left them no alternative. Well, that they hated the Cuban system I have no doubt. But whoever flees repression, whoever is truly in danger, is not very selective. And yet, the vast majority of these Cubans have “fled from communism” to the U.S., Canada, Spain or France even though the globe primarily is comprised over a hundred other capitalist democratic countries (with a few exceptions such as North Korea, China, Cuba, some Islamic nations and little else).
Seven times out of ten, when these Cubans migrate to countries like Guatemala, Honduras or Botswana, they do so with the intention of using these places as jump off bases with the ultimate intention of reaching the United States. As far as I know, none of these systematic detractors – not from the Cuban regime but from the ethics and execution of Cuban artists and from anyone living in Cuba – do so from capitalist democracies like Namibia or Paraguay. It sounds like the goal was not so much freedom and democracy as a particular country, does it not?
Some political prisoners and active opponents have suffered and suffer persecution, this is undeniable. But the others, especially now…? Come on, let’s face the reality. Tell me that they wanted to improve their economic situation, reform their conditions of life, arrive at opportunity via the fast lane. I can understand this. Heck, I can applaud it. Ten third worlds countries together can’t compete with a first world country. But do not politicize this migration beyond the obvious, do not try to tell me that Cubans flea to Miami solely because of Cuba’s failure as a country. Especially when everywhere in the entire world there are people who would flea to Miami, too. But, wait, other people in the world do not have the Cuban Adjustment Act.
From 1959 to the present there have been truly bloody dictatorships in a lot of Latin American countries (Argentina, the Dominican Republic, Uruguay, Paraguay, Guatemala, Haiti, Nicaragua, Brazil, Chile, et cetera), but there is no Chilean Adjustment Act, Haitian or Argentine. Ten percent of the Dominicans have emigrated to New York, millions of Mexicans and thousands of Salvadorans, and Haitians try to reach and stay in US territory, with no adjustment law in their favor, and no one says that their escape reflects the failure of capitalist democracy in those countries, right? They are just poor and they wanted an opportunity, right? Well there you go.
The geographical direction of these migrations speaks volumes to what their true intentions. If a “refugee” goes from Cuba to the U.S, they believe they have arrived to a utopia, or at least that is what they think initially. And of course, from an American or first world perspective, Cuba seems like a primitive and stagnant place.
However, it is not justified to deny the third world, to forget that it exists, that it comes from there. Usually when they have the chance and opportunity to travel, those emigrants are going to know Europe, Canada or Japan, it is very rare that they fly to poor countries, and if they do it is even rarer that they leave the hotel more than necessary to Take photos. The rest of the world – because it exists, you know? – is something that appears in Hollywood movies or TV, usually in background for the first world people to help the natives. Well, of course, there is also the Internet, but let he cast the first stone who in the last ten years has googled the political situation in Djibouti. Actually, cast the first stone if you even knew about the existence of Djibouti.
As I’ve mentioned before, I have very close friends who have immigrated to the U.S., and I have nothing against the act of migrating. Nor do I have nothing against Cuban’s who return to Cuba, ie: Issac Delgado or Yoani Sanchez. Those who feel portrayed or attacked by this post, please take it as constructive criticism of the relatively limited perspective that is sometimes cultivated between Cuba and Miami vs. Cuba and all third world countries.
Please do not assume that you understand and know the situation in Cuba more than us, the people actually living in Cuba. Even though our press sucks, do not judge us if you have not stepped foot onto this island for over 20 years or if you only come back here to find refuge in a Varadero resort. Please do not try to demonstrate what is indemonstrable, especially by claiming that Cubans who flea have more courage than the Cubans who stay.
Let’s be respectful and realistic, and quit masquerading behind a tourist’s perspective.
Please note: I have translated from Spanish to English, edited, and enhanced this wonderfully written piece by Eduardo Del Llano to the best of my abilities.