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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Neo Conservative Nonsense, Wise Words from Achy, and What Will Happen to the Cuban Adjustment Act

While scanning the news and blogs, there is the usual counterintuitive neo-conservative argument to support maintaining travel restrictions.

Why the U.S. Should Not Lift the Travel Ban to Cuba
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Sorry, but there is no correlation between American travel restrictions and improving human rights in Cuba. The only human rights being violated by American travel restrictions now are the Americans and Cuban Americans who do travel to Cuba and have to contend with the onslaught of economic pillage by all interested parties in this sadistic game and discussed in the previous blogpost. Keep supporting failure Heritage… “Nothing in the world is more dangerous than a sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”- Martin Luther King Jr. .
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There is a must read article by Achy Obejas called Inside Cuba- Voices from the Island,
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“…Part of the problem is that, well, it’s our problem – that is, it’s a Cuban problem. I know few Cubans, and not just in Miami but in Havana too, who want intervention. The vast majority of us – here and there and everywhere – want reconciliation, an end to estrangement, greater civil liberties on the island, a more efficient and open economy, peace and friendship with the U.S. But we want to figure this out amongst ourselves, among Cubans.
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I know this is hard sometimes for my non-Cuban friends on the left, who are so invested in Cuba they feel it’s practically theirs (and so invested sometimes, that they’re loath to see the evidence with their own eyes of anything that might contradict their ideas). But it’s not. Cuba’s ours. I know it’s hard to imagine that the crazies in Miami should actually have a say in Cuba’s future.
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But they should, yes. When I’m in Cuba, I tell them that. And in Miami, I don’t shy away from saying that those who stayed in Cuba are the ones who need to make the decisions, the ones who need to figure out what’s best, and that those of us who have chosen to live abroad – for whatever reason – can only have an auxiliary role. Cuba is for Cubans...”
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There is an excellent report on the Brothers to the Rescue Shootdown. Entitled “Documents Show The Shootdown Was Expected”, this investigative report which includes an assortment of documents related to the tragic incident,
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does lead one to conclude that not only the shootdown was expected, but could have been avoided. Four lives would have been spared and those men would be with their families today. Tragically this episode became part of the sordid history of U.S. Cuba relations and the flashpoint for the enactment of that other misguided legislation, the Helms Burton Act. But what was at the stimulus for the continual exodus of Cubans to the U.S.? One side will argue it is the Castro government that causes this. Another side will say it is the Cuban Adjustment Act, which effectively allows any Cuban who reaches any U.S. territory with or without legal immigration authorization to remain in the U.S. and adjust their status to permanent residency. Let us just say for argument sakes both are co-factors in the equation.
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In considering the pathway to normalization, the Cuban American Adjustment Act will come up and something has to done because this Act has had real life and death consequences here and in Cuba. In a day when there is human smuggling and clamors for immigration reform, I cannot see how the presence of this law and preference given to one class of immigrants over all others does not lend itself to resentment by other immigrant groups and a gross policy distortion that our government will ultimately have to account for. Not just in Cuba, but most any immigrant would take the risk of life and limb to reach the U.S. if they know they could stay and could not be deported. It is that simple.
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Hopefully, Cuba will reevaluate its posture as well. Cubans who do come to the U.S. under the CAA or immigrate legally find themselves disconnected and made pariahs from their homeland – the classification is called Salida Definitiva. The Cuban government should re-examine their migratory policies as many Cuban Americans in this category would like to return to the island to temporarily reside or even receive their U.S. social security checks in retirement on the island. Even though U.S. travel restrictions were lifted for Cuban Americans, it is not the same for them as compared to other Cuban nationals returning from abroad. The Cuban government treats the citizens who immigrate or reside in other countries apart from the U.S. better than the way they do the ones that do immigrate to the U.S.- that classification is called Permiso de Residencia en el Exterior. Hopefully in some future dialogue with its citizens and nationals living abroad, this will be addressed and improved. But one of the root causes of this distinction is the Cuban Adjustment Act and the lack of normal relations between our two countries.
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On the U.S. side in a pathway to normalization, the Cuban Adjustment Act, will likely be sunset or repealed. Cubans will be treated like any other immigrant group with the same rules and conditions that apply to everyone else. But what the U.S. can do under normal relations is establish a nonimmigrant visa preference, much like the one given to European Union members and other countries on that preferred list, so that Cubans can easily visit the U.S. and still return home. Similarly, Cuba can give a visa preference to Americans and no longer charge visa fees and even provide a customs preference, particularly for those who intend to help rebuild and reconstruct on the island. But all these ideas need to happen in the context of direct and frank discussions. Soon the U.S. government and the Cuban government will meet again to talk with each other, not at each other. That will be an important harbinger for things to come and the possibility of improvement of many issues of concern to both countries – human rights, political prisoners, and all.-TM

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