Those Who Migrate and Those Who Flee

June 4, 2012 | Print Print |

Elio Delgado Legon

Terminal 2 at Havana's International Airport. Photo: Caridad

HAVANA TIMES — Human migration is a worldwide phenomenon that dates back to ancient times. Humans have always sought to improve their well-being by migrating from poorer to richer areas, from rural to urban areas, and from developing countries to developed ones. But such migrants never said they were “fleeing.”

When migration is for political reasons — as occurred in the era of fascist rule in many countries, like in the past epochs of the bloody dictatorships suffered in Latin America — those migrants were called “exiles.”

In many such cases, people had to seek asylum in foreign embassies to protect themselves from persecution and to save their own lives.

Propaganda campaigns against Cuba have used the term “exiles” to refer to all those who have emigrated from this country; and when they refer to them, they say they are “fleeing.”

The fact is that those who really did “flee” from Cuba, to avoid having to face justice, were the murderers and torturers of the Batista government and many of the politicians who supported the dictator.

Nevertheless, thousands of soldiers, sailors, police officers and officials who didn’t participate in torture or murder remained in the country, and no one bothered them. Some even remained for some time in the army as advisors, trainers, administrators, etc. Some even stayed until retirement.

Many left later on, but they weren’t “fleeing,” simply because no one was chasing them.

All of the media propaganda against Cuba emphasizes the number of Cubans who have emigrated to the United States.

However, they don’t mention the millions of Mexicans, Salvadorans, Guatemalans, Colombians, and people from other countries — more than 50 million — living in that country. They are there even though they don’t receive the official support that Cubans do through the Cuban Adjustment Act (legislation that aims to encourage illegal emigration from Cuba, by any means, even through the commission of serious crimes, including murder).

It’s this US-government-induced illegal immigration that is precisely what’s used as propaganda to say that Cubans are “fleeing communism.”

Control tower. Photo: Caridad

Another piece of propaganda used by the enemies of the Cuban Revolution is that people die trying to cross the Straits of Florida, encouraged by that legislation. What they fail to mention are the thousands of Latin Americans who die each year trying to enter the United States by crossing the border with Mexico.

What would happen if there were a similar law encouraging the rest of the immigrants from Latin America to come to the US? For them the situation is just the opposite, anti-immigrant laws are being passed.

Have you ever wondered what would be the level of Cuban migration to the US if there were no Cuban Adjustment Act?

I don’t think that many Cubans would risk leaving the security they have in their country to go to a foreign country to suffer the discrimination and persecution endured by other Latin American and Caribbean immigrants there.

Logically, there is not the same standard of living in a poor and underdeveloped country as there is in a rich and developed country. That is the fundamental reason why people migrate from one country to another, a population that is estimated at between 200 and 300 million people around the world. Many of them did in fact flee, but from hunger.

For the anti-Cuban propaganda, people in other countries “emigrate,” but those who leave Cuba are “fleeing.” One has to look more closely to see which ones are really migrating and which ones are fleeing.

 


What's your opinion?

  • Moses

    Elio, I agree with your analysis. Words can convey powerful and sometimes misleading messages. The words we choose to use more often reflect our perspective of the truth than the actual truth. There should be no difference in how we describe a Mexican immigrant who risks his life to illegally cross the US border into southern Arizona on foot and a Cuban immigrant who crosses the Florida strait in a raft to enter southern Florida. But, Elio, sometimes there is a big difference. Not many Mexican doctors, lawyers, engineers or world class athletes choose to leave Mexico. Mexicans who do leave their country legally are not called “gusanos” and as in years past in Cuba, subject to eggs being thrown at them, or worse. Finally, once a Mexican immigrant, legal or illegal decides to return to Mexico to visit family or to return permanently, the Mexican government welcomes their native son (and his bank account) with open arms. No questions asked. I would stand with you in urging that the labels we use to describe our Latin American immigrants be consistent and accurately reflect the nature of their decision to emigrate. Can I count on you likewise accept that when a blogger accepts a foreigner’s gft of a 10cuc Cubacell phone card, that should not make them a “mercenary”. Would you also help clean up the misuse of the word blockade when it really should be embargo? Finally, since you clearly want to accurately reflect people based on the truth, can you join me in supporting the distinction between being anti-Cuban and being anti-Castro? As you must agree Elio, there is work to be done on both sides.

  • http://www.cubaverdad.net Cubaverdad

    This whole debate can be very easily reduced to two word: “illegal exit”.
    Cuba is one of the few countries in this world that denies its citizens the right to freely enter and leave their own country. A right enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

    However hard the author tries to blame the fact so many Cubans risked everything to leave Cuba on US migration policies or outside propaganda, he can’t deny that no foreign laws can get people to abandon their country unless they want to. The real reason why Cubans flee Cuba is that they have lost hope. In Cuba they have to flee as emigration is strictly controlled by the state. To emigrate means making a free and deliberate choice to go to a specific destination. To flee means to desperately want to get out of where you are and the destination to which you go is less important. Most Cubans flee Cuba.

    • Luis

      And about “legal exit”… that means money. Not only in Cuba. And if it involves money, it isn’t a right, but a privilege.

      • http://www.cubaverdad.net Cubaverdad

        “Legal exit” in Cuba means first and for all the authorization to do so. Money can be used to bribe someone.
        Rights are not dependent on money. The easy execution thereof may require money. That doesn’t change the basic right in to a “privilege”.
        The right of freedom of movement enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights has nothing to do with money.
        It means that a Cuban that can hitch a ride on a yacht from Havana to Miami should be free to leave Cuba.
        As far as turning this right in to a “privilege”: Cuba has indeed done so in various ways: law and cash
        - firstly by requiring an exit and re-entry visas
        - secondly by requiring an “invitation” from a third person abroad for lots of travel abroad – at a cost of 1 year of average Cuban salary
        - by pricing a passport at close to 3 months of average salary
        - by demanding a month fee of two months average salary for each month after the first the Cuban stays abroad.
        Freedom of movement is a right however expensive the Cuban regime makes it. Just with a valid passport Cubans should be able to freely enter and leave the country. That is their birthright

        • Luis

          I agree that the Cuban migration laws ought to change, but to ignore things such as entry visas and fees required by almost any country… that’s a radical one sided way to look at it.

          • http://www.cubaverdad.net Cubaverdad

            I have posted all elements of the equation as far as Cuba goes. That is not “one sided”.
            All data is posted and correct.

            Other countries may require an entry visa for foreigners. that is a case of their national sovereignty and is not an issue in this debate. This is about how a country treats its own nationals, not foreigners.

            The issue here is the fact that Cuba requires exit and re-entry visas from its own citizens.
            What I decry is the violation of the International declaration of Human Rights by Cuba: the requirement of an exit and re-entry visa for its own nationals.
            There is nothing “radical” about it, quite the opposite. No “departure form the norm”.
            I just point out that Cuba should adhere to the norm and abandon its illegal treatment of its won citizens.

      • Moses

        Your comment is proof again how Fidel has screwed up Cuban beliefs. A priviledge is something a select few people, with or without money, have an opportunity to do. To go to Harvard University is a privilege. A right is something everyone has an opportunity to do regardless of money. Everyone has a right to travel (except in Cuba). Please don’t confuse one’s right with one’s ability. If I lack money my ability to travel is severely limited but my right to do so is intact (except in Cuba).

        • Luis

          Both traveling abroad and going to Harvard are privileges…

        • Luis

          Better yet, access to higher education and free travel are rights that, in practice, are privileges.

        • Milagros

          Moses please can’t we all get along?

  • fernando

    well, it’s simple answer, why cubans flee their own country?, because of the political regime there, the lack of oportunities, and the socialism-idea- of a better world, and the suppression of all the human freedoms.

  • Luis

    Ok. mister who responds for a hate site, I do agree with you that the migration laws in Cuba should change. They are obsolete and respond to an epoch – the cold war – that doesn’t exist anymore. Ok, between the US there still is a cold war nonetheless… What I don’t agree with you and agree with Elio is that “Most Cubans flee Cuba”. Well, if to flee is “means to desperately want to get out of where you are and the destination to which you go is *less important*”, why do the majority of Cubans who move out of the island choose the US or more developed countries?

  • Milagros

    YES! my father was one such person a former entertainer and band leader Los Munequitos de Matanzas who did not flee but was allowed to leave with dignity and at his request (a former soldier) in the 80′s
    I was sent out of Cuba after the rev for my safety along with my mom. ion the 60′s .My daddy is now the same age as Fidel and enamored to Cuba albeit he chooses to reside in the US.with ocassional returns to Cuba.. Why can’t we all get along? And please do not blame the Cubans

  • Marlene Azor Hernandez

    Elio, your bias in your analysis doesn’t allow you to understand the issue.

    Regarding all of those who “immigrate” from other parts of the world:

    - Do they have to pay an exit permit in their country, one which is more than their annual salary?
    - Do they have to pay for a letter of invitation, which is more than their annual salary?
    - Once they emigrate does the government confiscate their homes and cars?
    - Do they receive official taunts of “scum,” “mercenaries” and “traitors” for leaving their country?
    - Are they held up at airports and sent back to their countries of residence for having disagreed with the policies of the government of their country?
    - When they are denied permission to leave the country do they have to pay for it because the government doesn’t allow them out?
    - Are they required to enter their birth country with a passport from that country despite having another nationality?

    Answering these seven questions will place the matter in a better light.

    The creation of exiles by Cuban immigration policy has nothing to do with global migration.

    If you’re competing for a chance to appear on the “Round Table” television show, then you’re ready. But in an open forum you would be profoundly unqualified. There’s no competition for your bias.