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    The Cuban Adjustment Act is not the Problem

    The Cuban Adjustment Act is not the Problem / Miriam Celaya
    Posted on January 27, 2016

    Miriam Celaya, Cubanet, Havana, 22 January 2016 – The imminent arrival
    in the US of thousands of Cubans stranded in Costa Rica has, once again,
    unleashed the debate whether the Cuban Adjustment Act its right or not,
    its original foundations, and opinions on whether Cubans who are exiting
    today should be considered political immigrants and, because of it,
    deserve to benefit from that law.

    The subject stimulates strong feelings, as is always the case among
    Cubans, clouding objectivity and making it difficult to demarcate
    between legal matters, political interests, personal resentments and the
    purely human issue, which is ultimately what motivates all exodus,
    beyond particular circumstances marked by politics and economics.

    Positions are usually polarized, unqualified and exclusive: they either
    favor the infinite arrival of Cubans to the US – particularly to Miami,
    the offshore capital of “all Cubans” – and the ‘irreversibility’ of the
    Cuban Adjustment Act, as a sort of divine right inherent to those born
    within the Cuban Archipelago’s 110,000 square kilometers, or they
    advocate the repeal of the law and limiting or cutting off aid to all
    those who arrive.

    And, since anything goes when it’s time to taking advantage of the
    situation, the new migration crisis has also been seized by some
    Cuban-American politicians to stoke the embers against the move towards
    the warming of diplomatic relations with the Cuban government initiated
    by the White House, creating uncertainty about the possible
    disappearance of the Cuban Adjustment Act, and with it, the privileges
    Cuban immigrants to the US have enjoyed.

    Unfortunately, this approach overlaps the real cause of the growing
    exodus out of Cuba: asphyxia, decay, and condemnation to eternal poverty
    under an obsolete and failed sociopolitical system thrust on them almost
    60 years ago. With or without the Cuban Adjustment Act, Cubans will
    continue to emigrate, either to the US or to any other destination,
    which is evident in the existence of communities of Cuban emigrants in
    countries where there are no Adjustment Act Laws from which they might
    benefit.

    Ergo, the controversial Law – which, by the way, the Cuban authorities
    did not even mention during the honeymoon days with the Soviet Union –
    is an undeniable part of the problem, but not the most important one, so
    that its repeal will not constitute the solution to the unstoppable flow
    of people from Cuba.

    In fact, we can categorically state that if the legislation should
    disappear, Cubans will not give up on their desire to enter US
    territory, and, once in the US, they would survive in illegality, just
    as millions of “undocumented” Latin-American immigrants have done.
    Haven’t we been trained for decades here in Cuba, where everything good
    seems to be prohibited, to survive in illegality in a thousand different
    ways?

    The “legitimate” children of the Cuban Adjustment Act

    It is difficult to objectively review a legal tool that has protected so
    many fellow Cubans. But when we talk about the Cuban Adjustment Act
    itself, we inevitably recall the causes and circumstances that gave rise
    to it.

    Enacted in 1966, the Act gave legal status to a large number of Cubans
    who had been forced to flee Cuba, many of whom had been affected by
    revolutionary laws or had serious accusations hanging over them, either
    for real or alleged collaboration with Batista or other crimes
    considered ‘against’ the triumphant Castro revolution.

    We must recall that, back then, the firing squad was still the usual
    sentence applied to “traitors” by the guerrilla gang that took power in
    1959. Punishable categories could equally include being members or
    supporters of the former dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista, and being
    participants in the revolutionary struggle that opposed Fidel Castro’s
    turn to communism, some of whom returned to armed struggle as a form of
    rebellion and were defeated.

    Cuban exiles of the ‘60s were mainly families of the upper and middle
    classes of the bourgeoisie who had been economically affected by
    nationalizations and other “revolutionary” measures, and whose interests
    were incompatible with the political line taken by the Cuban government.

    And it must be noted that when they left Cuba they were stripped of all
    their rights by the Cuban revolutionary laws. From a legal point of
    view, returning to Cuba was not an option for them. Thus, the Cuban
    Adjustment Act was created to resolve the legal limbo in which these
    early Cubans were living, when, seven years into the Castro regime, all
    indications were that their return to Cuba would be more protracted than
    previously anticipated.

    The rest of the story is well known. A law arising for the benefit of
    Cuban political exiles in the heat of the Cold War evolved into a
    standard when it extended to every Cuban who sets foot in the US, even
    though most of them arriving today do not consider themselves as
    politically persecuted by the Castro dictatorship.

    “I’m going there to do my own thing”

    None of the phases of the long Communist experiment in Cuba have been
    without migration. With its peaks and valleys, the outflow was an
    important sign of the history of the Cuban nation in the last 57 years
    under the same government and the same political system.

    Current circumstances, however, are not the same as those that existed
    as the backdrop of the migration of the 1960’s, the spectacular Rafter
    Crisis of 1994 or the colossal Mariel Boatlift of 1980, when the abuse
    of repudiation rallies, humiliation, and beatings promoted by the
    government, organized by the Cuban Communist Party (PCC) and the mass
    organizations are etched forever in the memories of both those who left
    and those who stayed.

    Cubans who fled in the early years of the Revolution suffered a complete
    break with what was their way of life in Cuba and were stripped of
    property and rights as nationals. They endured the condemnation of those
    who are exiled without the possibility of returning to their homeland
    for decades, by which time many of them or their family members who
    stayed behind had died, without even being able to say goodbye. They
    were the direct victims of the political system that some of them had
    even helped bring to power. What is clear is that in the last four or
    five years the reality has changed, and so has the perception that the
    current emigrés have about their own situation.

    Cubans who emigrate today not only define themselves mainly as having
    economic motives, but under Cuba’s migration reform of 2013 they
    preserve both the rights to their property and the right to enter and
    leave Cuba within 24 months, plus at least the minimum rights that are
    enshrined in the Cuban Constitution.

    A great part of them have declared that their intention to emigrate was
    so they could improve their material living conditions and help their
    family in Cuba – that is precisely the same aspirations of millions of
    Latin-Americans – and they even repeat that everlasting, all-knowing
    phrase, so often heard around here: “I don’t care about politics, I’m
    going there to do my own thing.”

    And, indeed, once they have obtained their legal residence (the famous
    “green card”), they begin to travel to Cuba before the expiration of the
    two-year grace period granted to them by the Cuban government to
    preserve their rights as natives of the dilapidated island hacienda.
    “Fears” of reprisals from the Castro regime that they were experiencing
    when applying under the Cuban Adjustment Act abruptly and magically
    disappear, once they qualify.

    This is a triple benefit: for Cuban emigrants because they get favored
    twice, with the Cuban Adjustment Act and with Raul’s immigration reform,
    and for the Cuban government, because migration has become one of the
    few sources guaranteeing steady net income and constant foreign currency
    inflows.

    After that, privileges to fast legal access to work, a Social Security
    number, food stamps and other benefits received because of their alleged
    condition as “persecuted,” in reality becomes a kind of legal scam of
    the public treasury to which taxpayers contribute, especially Americans
    who have nothing to do with the Cuban drama. This is the essential
    argument used by those who believe that the time has come to – at least
    – review the Adjustment Act and modify it so that it can accommodate
    only those who can reasonably be regarded as “political refugees.”

    But the biggest trap of the Adjustment Act does not lie exactly in
    tending to reinforce the intangible (and false) Cuban exceptionalism, or
    in its current ambiguity or discretion that some future modification
    might grant it, but – just like happens with the embargo – its real
    inconvenience resides in making a foreign law responsible for the
    solution of problems that are clearly national in their nature.

    Once again, the quest for solutions to the eternal Cuban crisis is
    placed on the shoulders of legislators and other foreign politicians, a
    reality that is indicative of the pernicious infancy of a country whose
    children are incapable of seeing themselves as protagonists of their own
    destinies and thus, with a change in the rules of the game in their own
    country, opt to escape the miserable Castro paternalism in order to
    benefit from the generous kindness of US paternalism. Cubans, let’s stop
    going around in circles; the problem is not the Adjustment Act or the
    clique of politicians here, there, or yonder, but in ourselves. It’s
    that simple.

    Source: The Cuban Adjustment Act is not the Problem / Miriam Celaya |
    Translating Cuba –
    translatingcuba.com/the-cuban-adjustment-act-is-not-the-problem-miriam-celaya/

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