Cuba May Fuel Next Refugee Wave

Monday, 27 Sep 2010 10:03 AM

By James Walsh

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The communist government of Castro’s Cuba announced on Sept. 13, 2010, the elimination of 500,000 government jobs by April 2011 and of a million by 2015.

This reduction in the government work force is meant to reduce inefficiencies, according to the country’s largest union, Central de Trabajadores de Cuba.

This union claims the Cuban state budget cannot maintain businesses and services with inflated payrolls that generate bad work habits, distort worker conduct, and result in economic losses.

Castro’s communist/socialist state is failing because it cannot pay its state workers –– after 50 years of trying. Fidel Castro is quoted as saying, “The Cuban model doesn’t even work for us anymore.”

Cuba’s announcement of its failure with communism/socialism was the most under-reported news of this campaign year. Cuba’s elimination of 500,000 state jobs will represent a 10 percent reduction in the island nation’s work force. Earlier layoffs have occurred without fanfare since the spring of 2010.

This massive Cuban transition from government employment to private business will not take place overnight. After two generations of nanny-state employment and the diaspora of professional, entrepreneurial, technical, and skilled workers in the 1960s and 1970s, any transition to private enterprise will require decades, not years.

The Cuban nation cannot absorb 500,000 to a million unemployed without a resultant revolution. One escape valve will be flotillas to the United States. The well-established Cuban-American communities in the United States will be a natural haven and draw for a coming wave of Castro refugees.

Castro’s rise to power in 1959 triggered a wave of Cuban refugees breaking on U.S. shores. In December 1960, under President Dwight Eisenhower, Cuban exiles received refugee status, and the federal government established a Cuban Refugee Emergency Center in Miami, Fla.

In 1961, President John F. Kennedy created the Cuban Refugee Program, as America became a country of first asylum for large numbers of refugees.

The following year, President Kennedy signed the Migration and Western Hemisphere Refugees Assistance Act, which permitted immigration by those Cubans being persecuted because of their opposition to the Castro regime.

Following the 1965 Camarioca Boatlift, the U.S. Congress passed the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966 (CAA; P. Law 89-732), providing that Cubans may legally migrate to the United States through various federal programs, such as the Special Cuban Migration Program (SCMP) better known as the “Cuban Lottery”.

Immigration caps do not apply to Cuban nationals, and Cuban applicants for political asylum need not use family-based or employer-based immigrant visa petitions.

Cuban applicants need not enter through a port of entry, and being a public charge does not prevent applicants from becoming eligible for permanent resident status.

In addition, Cuban applicants immediately receive a U.S. work permit, a U.S. social security number, and public assistance for food and accommodations.

There followed two other major Cuban boatlifts, the infamous Mariel boatlift in 1980 and the “rafters” crisis of 1994.

The Mariel boatlift was Castro’s fillip to President Jimmy Carter, as Castro sent violent criminals from his prison system and mental patients from asylums. The toughest U.S. prisoners were afraid of them.

The Mariel incident led to indirect talks between the United States and Cuba, which in turn led to Cuba accepting back a limited number of the “Mariel excludables.” These repatriations continued on and off again in a sub rosa manner through the 1990s.

In May 1995, both countries agreed that Cubans illegally entering the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo would be sent back to Cuba. Also, any Cubans interdicted at sea would be repatriated to Cuba, but those managing to land on U.S. soil would be permitted to stay –– thus the “dry feet-wet feet” policy.

Those refugees escaping to a third country often sought to cross the Mexico-U.S. border, claiming asylum (fear of persecution) if returned to Cuba. Such immigrants became known as “dusty feet” applicants.

These historically inconsistent and at times arbitrary U.S. immigration policies have laid the groundwork for a fourth and gigantic boatlift that could be triggered by an unemployment crisis in Cuba.

Emigration, largely to the United States, is the only pressure release that Cuba has. Yet in Florida and other receiving states, a massive new influx of Cuban exiles will place additional strains on economic, educational, social, and welfare entitlements.

Foreign investment in Cuba may increase, but not at a pace to cope with a sudden surge of unemployed. Countries friendly to Cuba, such as Brazil, Russia, and Venezuela, have their own financial problems and are unlikely to be opening businesses in Cuba.

Most of those being laid off will be low-skilled workers. Skilled workers, such as healthcare providers, oil technicians, and police/military personnel are likely to continue as state employees.

With its announcement of the coming layoffs, the Cuban government officially admitted that communism/socialism doesn’t work. A Cuban boatlift of former government workers is sure to follow. Is the Obama administration prepared for it?

The failure of socialism in Cuba comes at a bad time for the Obama administration, which may explain why the liberal media in the United States has given short shrift to this major story coming out of Castro’s Cuba.

President Obama and his inner circle might take a lesson from Cuba that state ownership of business does not work, nor do federal bailouts of banks, automobile companies, unions, insurance companies, and healthcare.

Only in the hallowed halls of academia does socialism still have avid proponents.



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