A record number of Cubans are fleeing to the US via Mexico even after the supposed normalization of relations with Cuba. So it’s no surprise that Obama’s big show with Cuba was all smoke and mirrors. So here they come via Mexico in record numbers. The fluff piece below describes the journey of ‘economic migrants’ who illegally came to America via our southern border which has become a global magnet for nyone and everyone. Oy vey! The people of Cuba still suffer but why should Americans take in people who came here illegally?
Here’s what one Cuban had to say about why she fled:
“For us Cubans our lives have not changed,” Mrs Rojas said. “Actually, it’s getting worse.”
Despite the announcement a year ago that America and Cuba were re-establishing ties after half a century of hostilities, she sees no promise in her homeland and has fled.
“I had to get out,” she said, speaking from the Costa Rica, close to the border with Nicaragua, where she is camped out. “I couldn’t stand it any more.”
Human rights campaigners claim that 1,500 people were arbitrarily detained in December – one of the highest figures in months. And the dream of political participation still seems very distant indeed.
It was not supposed to be like this.
When President Barack Obama and Raul Castro, his Cuban counterpart, made simultaneous speeches beamed live into American and Cuban living rooms on December 17, 2014, there was dancing in the streets. At last, Cubans felt, they were coming in from the cold, and their lives could not help but get better.
Mr Castro, now 84, and his ailing brother Fidel, 89, appeared to have come to the realisation that with their economy in the doldrums and a young, restless population, isolation would no longer work.
Mr Obama said that Washington had realised that putting up barriers would not help Cubans – although, to his frustration, the embargo remains in place. Only Congress can remove that, meaning that many restrictions on business still stand.
In mid December a “goodwill tour” of Major League Baseball players – including some high-profile Cuban defectors – made their first visit to the island, sparking a frenzy among fans.
Antonio Castro, son of Fidel and vice president of Cuba’s baseball federation, said it marked the start of a new era.
“It’s like a baby,” he said. “Born now, learning to walk. Fans want it. Players want it. We have to see. Anything we do to grow the game – everything we do to grow the game is exciting for us.”
But the initial joy of Cubans soon faded, and change did not come quickly enough. Many, like Mrs Rojas, set their sights on the northern horizon.
From her home in Miami, Alicia Garcia was waiting to help. She fled Cuba as part of the 1994 exodus – one of three main “waves” of migration. The first was directly after the revolution; the second in 1980, when flotillas of boats crossed the Straits to pick up waiting Cubans from the port of Mariel, and the third in 1994, in the midst of deep economic hardship after the fall of Cuba’s economic crutch, the USSR.
Mrs Garcia came by boat, but the majority of those arriving in Florida now come overland through Mexico.
“It’s a flood of people,” she said. “Thirty thousand came in 1994 with me, but this is far bigger. All types of people are coming – men, women, children. They are fed up of the repression and economic problems at home, and scared that soon they won’t be welcomed by the US.”
Her organisation, the Exodus 94 Foundation, helps new arrivals without family members in the US. She assists them with documentation, shelter and jobs – finding work for them across the US in Pennsylvania, Houston and California.
“This week we had 25 arrive. But I think it’s slowing down for Christmas – a month ago it was 100, 200 a week.
“Nobody believes that this change will make their lives better. They’ve been lied to by the Castros too many times before. Maybe Obama is sincere, but Raul definitely isn’t.”
Jordan, 38, arrived in Miami a month ago. He left Cuba for Ecuador, and initially planned to work there – but soon realised that he could earn more money to send home to his mother in Santa Clara from the US.
“I made $12 a month as an electrician in Cuba,” he said, putting down his drill to tell his story, while behind him his Cuban colleagues noisily carried on working. “Here I can make $1,000. I was just looking for a better life.”
His journey was hard – corrupt Colombian border police stole his $900 savings on the border, and he crossed Central America “village by village”, working as he went. But he insisted the hardship was worth it.
“For tourists Cuba is beautiful. But for us living there, it’s so hard.”
Joel, 29, agreed. A chemist by trade, he arrived in Miami a month ago and is still waiting for his American work permit. But he was confident things would be better.
“I earned a good salary in Cuba – $20 a month,” he said. “But here I can send money back to my mum and build a future for me.”
Back on the Costa Rican border, Mrs Rojas was dreaming of following in Jordan and Joel’s footsteps.
“You asked me what has changed in the past year for us,” she said. “Well I can tell you. We’ve all gone completely crazy to leave.”