Wednesday, October 17, 2012

"Migration Reform" in Cuba: New rules to achieve the same result

What is the reason behind the latest regime distraction?

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The Castro dictatorship in 2012 is once again demonstrating that it is a master of distraction highlighting a new migration law with new rules that achieve the same result: travel in and out of Cuba is to be administered by the Ministry of the Interior and professionals such as medical doctors do not have freedom to travel. The infamous white card, an exit visa, that Cubans need to exit their own country will according to the regime announcement be replaced in 2013 with new more stringent requirements for the passport.

The White Card (La Tarjeta Blanca) is an exit visa for Cuban nationals
What do the authorities hope to accomplish with this so-called reform that the regime says will come into effect on January 1, 2013? First, one of the long term objectives of the dictatorship is eliminating the 1966 Cuban Adjustment Act which grants Cuban refugees special immigration privileges for fleeing a totalitarian dictatorship where the freedom of travel is nonexistent. Floating the threat of a slow motion Mariel is meant to pressure U.S. lawmakers into eliminating a law that demonstrates that the Castro regime is different from every other country in the hemisphere. 

This migration "reform"is an example of what the late dissident leader Oswaldo Paya referred to as "fraudulent change." Giving the image of an opening while the Stalinist character of the dictatorship remains intact thus benefiting from the image makeover in order to provide decreased international scrutiny and increased legitimacy. Sadly, the reality is very different. Cubans will be no freer to travel on January 1, 2013 then they are today. It will be up to the whims of the dictatorship.
Despite the new law, Cuba remains the only country in the hemisphere that systematically bars the freedom of movement in and out of the country of its nationals in violation of Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which reads as follows:
  1. Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each State.
  2. Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.
Between 70,000 and 300,000 Cubans are banned by the Castro regime from returning to their homeland reported The Miami Herald on August 15, 2011 in an article titled Many Cuban expatriates can't go home again.The new law does nothing to change this reality maintaining freedom of movement firmly in the hands of the Ministry of the Interior i.e. "State Security."

The Cuban government under the Castro dictatorship has engaged in atrocities to prevent Cubans from freely leaving their own country such as the July 13, 1994 "13 de Marzo" tugboat masssacre and has also denied activists the right to attend international human rights gatherings. 

One concrete change is that the cost of the passport for a Cuban national has increased in cost from 55 CUCs to 100 CUCs when the average Cuban earns 20 CUCs working for an entire month. This means that under this so-called reform for a Cuban to obtain a passport he needs to spend five months salary.

In August of 2012 the regime floated that it would end its blacklist of artists and got a lot of positive media coverage although a few days later clarified that artists like Celia Cruz and Olga Guillot, who had been critical of the regime would continue to be banned that is to say blacklisted. There was much less press attention to this setback for music freedom and the dictatorship got a free pass.In March of 2011 it held its 6th Communist Party Congress that kept many Cubans on the island and Cuba experts abroad focused on the gathering to the exclusion of all else and again despite all the propagandist drama anticipating and following the meeting it achieved little other than distraction.

The question that arises is why launch this migration initiative now if this is to serve as a distraction? Not to mention the rumors of Fidel Castro's death.  What is the dictatorship trying to take attention away from? Could it be to take attention away from the news reports surrounding Fidel Castro's contracting Nazi Waffen SS to train Cuban troops in the early 1960s. Is it the news that the Soviets thought the Cuban regime so unstable and willing to unleash a nuclear holocaust that they withdrew 100 tactical nuclear weapons from Cuba following a letter Castro sent to the Soviet leadership in October of 1962 encouraging they launch a nuclear first strike? Not to mention that he requested a second nuclear strike on the United States in the early 1980s? Could it be to distract from opposition activities on the one year anniversary of the passing of Lady in White founder Laura Pollan who died on October 14, 2012 under suspicious circumstances? Or could it be trying to cover up the show trial of the Spanish youth leader sentenced to four years in prison in a process where the family of Oswaldo Paya was denied access and has refused to recognize as legitimate?

The fundamental reason that the totalitarian regime in Cuba engages in these distractions is that this kind of system cannot survive transparency and the free flow of information especially when large numbers of Cubans are fed up with the system. As long as the dictatorship continues in power the art of distraction it has perfected over half a century will continue.

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