The year 1959 marked a change in Cuba’s migratory pattern: the island was no longer an appealing destination for migrants, but a sender of migrants. At the time, the main reasons for this were related to the measures implemented by the new government as part of the new system change. Among other reasons, opposition to the communist model that was being prosecuted, the absence of political freedoms, expropriation, the repression of political dissent, the government’s condemnation of religious practices and homosexuality were only some of the factors that conditioned the mass exodus at the time.
Most of the above reasons still exist, however, but as the country’s economic situation has worsened, these reasons are becoming an even stronger trigger for this migration wave. Dissident prosecution and the limited political freedoms are major reasons to understand the reasons behind the ongoing mass exodus from Cuba. In addition, such factors also led to migration crisis events such as those that took place in 1980 and 1994.
The current context of mass exodus
Cuba is experiencing a deepening structural financial crisis that is directly impacting on people’s well-being as a result of the Monetary Order, in addition to a political and social crisis worsened by the violent crushing of the 11 July 2021 demonstrations This has generated hopelessness in a population that is increasingly becoming suspicious of how the country’s government is performing its duties.
The people of Cuba no longer have the hopeful prospects of the early years of the Revolution. The socialist reality in Cuba ended when the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) collapsed, yet the experience has not meant the transformation of the country’s policies, but rather a repetition of the same mistakes over and over again by the authorities. Inefficient practices which have resulted in the distortion of the economy.
Repression as a trigger for mass exodus
The government’s response to the 11J protests, which involved both the use of armed force and punitive actions for many of the people arrested, proves how the government has run out of adequate tools to address the people’s discontent. The violation of the rights granted by the 2019 Constitution is a clear evidence of the government’s strong sense of authority and unwillingness to actually engage and listen to the people while running the country. The government has refused to acknowledge public criticism of its performance while ignoring the views and opinions of citizens. This situation has led to a widening gap between the leaders and the institutions with the people.
Under these conditions, Cubans have the choice to either agree with the government’s policies, fight against them or leave the country. Thus, several generations of Cubans have left their country seeking a more promising life where at least the future is not as uncertain and where providing a better quality of life for families is a genuine possibility. In the meantime, the country is drifting into a more extreme crisis scenario, which is gradually spreading to new environments and affecting more and more aspects of daily life in the country.
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