Havana, November 29 (EFE). Nicaragua has joined the list of limited options for some Cubans who want and can immigrate permanently or not, respite from a crisis exacerbated by the pandemic, worsening U.S. sanctions, and delays in economic reforms.
The decision of Daniel Ortega’s government to cancel visas for Cubans wishing to travel to the Central American country, in response to a “humanitarian” measure, has penetrated hundreds of travel enthusiasts.
However, Havana’s airlines, Copa and Conviasa, do not sell tickets at the moment – they’re roughly $1,700 round trip and $878 round trip – and they haven’t confirmed direct flights from Havana to Managua.
This caused the alarm of many Cubans who gathered these days at the headquarters of those airlines in Havana to demand the sale of their tickets and to refuse the possibility of reimbursing those they had already bought.
“We are upset that we bought the ticket in January last year and now they are telling us there are no planes and they want a refund,” a couple, who declined to be named, told Efe.
For his part, a woman joined the complaint, explaining that “the response of the airlines is that there are no planes. What we want is to leave.”
Jorge Duany, director of Florida International University’s Cuban Research Institute, explained to Efe that the movement of Cubans to Nicaragua will certainly increase, either to buy and resell on the island, or to travel to Mexico to cross the border. with the United States
There has already been a large influx of Cubans to the United States and other countries, exacerbated by the health, economic and political crisis in Cuba, and this immigration is likely to intensify in the coming months, the academic predicts.
Remember that many Cubans are looking for alternatives to visa-free immigration, in light of the closure of the Consular Section at the US Embassy in Havana since 2017.
In turn, Cuban Professor Antonio Aja, of the Center for International Migration Studies at the University of Havana, points out that it is not a phenomenon specific to Cuba, especially in the last years of the pandemic.
In his article “International Migration, COVID-19 and Cuban Migration”, he explains that in 2020, tensions were exacerbated by the tightening of the US embargo (the embargo) in an attempt to stifle the economy and society and provoke discontent in the country. Cuban population.
Added to this is the “continued hostile and aggressive relationship on the part of the United States against Cuba,” he said.
The decision aims to boost trade, tourism and human family relations, according to the government of Ortega, one of Cuba’s allies in the region.
In 2015, the Central American country closed its border with Costa Rica and stranded thousands of Cubans who had intended to continue heading to the United States, causing an unprecedented crisis.
At that time, the wave of Cuban immigrants to the northern country greatly increased due to the fear that the rapprochement between Washington and Havana – known as “the thaw” – would exclude the advantages of immigration enjoyed by Cubans.
Two years later, President Barack Obama (2009-2017) by executive order repealed the “dry feet, wet feet” policy of former President William Clinton (1993-2001).
It allowed Cubans who touched land (dry feet) to obtain permanent residence one year after their arrival, even if they did so illegally, while those intercepted at sea (wet feet) were returned to the island.
US encourages immigration, according to Cuba
So far in 2021, 1,137 Cubans have been repatriated in 55 such operations: 46 from the United States, 5 from the Bahamas, 3 from Mexico and one from the Cayman Islands, the second head of the Identification Directorate told the official newspaper Granma. Immigration and Aliens, Colonel Lazaro Delgado.
The Cuban government attributes the increase to the failure of the United States to provide 20,000 visas a year, and the effect of the 1966 Cuban Amendment Act — which allows Cubans to apply for permanent residence in the United States annually and one day of residency in that country. Country-, strengthening the blockade.
The suspension of procedures for granting immigrant and non-immigrant visas at the US Consulate in Havana, and the transfer of these procedures to third countries, also encouraged illegal departures.
The United States reduced the activity and staff of its embassy in Havana to a minimum and shifted consular services to third countries after nearly thirty of its diplomats suffered mysterious “health accidents” in 2017, the causes of which have not yet been established. .
Every economic crisis follows a wave of emigration, at least that is what happened in 1965 when then-President Fidel Castro announced that anyone with a relative abroad could leave and create the port of Camarioca (Matanzas) for this purpose.
Then, in 1980, more than 125,000 Cubans left in just seven months through the port of Mariel – 55 kilometers from Havana – in the largest mass exodus to date.
In another 1994 crisis, the rafters crisis, occurred in the middle of the “special period” when more than 30,000 people crossed the dangerous Florida Strait in unstable boats, a stampede that forced both countries to agree to official channels to normalize the migratory flow according to the AHA.
The academic states in the article “Cuban Immigration. Balance in the Twentieth Century” that the United States has historically been the primary recipient of Cubans due to geographical proximity (90 miles) and preferential treatment for political reasons.
He added that the neighboring country encouraged the departure of Cubans from the Cuban refugee program in the early 1960s and the Cuban Adaptation Act of 1966, currently in effect.
Note to subscribers: The decisions of the Cuban authorities in recent months have decimated the Efe Mission team in Havana, where currently only two journalists can continue to do their work. Efe hopes to be able to regain her informational ability on the island in the coming days.
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