Friday, November 20, 2015

Has Cuba Manufactured a Refugee Crisis?

Has Cuba Manufactured a Refugee Crisis?
Ana Quintana / @Ana_R_Quintana / November 19, 2015

Ana Quintana is a policy analyst for Latin America and the Western
Hemisphere in The Heritage Foundation's Allison Center for Foreign
Policy Studies.

A humanitarian crisis is developing in Central America along the border
between Costa Rica and Nicaragua. Earlier this week, the Nicaraguan
military began refusing to allow the passage of around 2,000 Cuban
refugees fleeing the Castro dictatorship.

Nicaragua's socialist Sandinista government (and close ally of the
Castro regime) has even resorted to using teargas and other deterrents.

But has the Cuban government manufactured this refugee crisis in order
to strong-arm the U.S.?

Evidence of Havana's manipulation can clearly be seen in the magnitude
of refugee flows. Cuba is a totalitarian police state, where people are
not even allowed to move from house to another without the government's
approval. So is it reasonable to believe that 2,000 Cubans got to Costa
Rica without Castro's approval?

This point is reinforced by the circumstances surrounding their
departure. Vast majorities are leaving via government owned and operated
planes en route to Ecuador. State permission is also needed to fly in
most cases.

This is also not the first time the Cuban government has used refugees
to try and coerce an American government to do its will; the most
notable instances being the Mariel boatlifts of 1980 and the 1994 Cuban
raft exodus. Prior to each, a common thread of events is clearly seen.
In both cases, the regime sought to strong arm the US.

The events occurring now in Nicaragua are no different.

The blame for this humanitarian catastrophe can then largely be
attributed to President Obama's new policy of support for the
dictatorship in Havana.

Essentially, the Castro regime has been put in the driver's seat of U.S.
policy towards the island since Obama announced his new Cuba policy. The
Obama administration has unilaterally granted a series of concessions at
break neck speed – without gaining anything in return from Castro.

In less than 11 months, the president has weakened our position with
Cuba by giving into Havana's demands to be prematurely removed off of
the State Sponsor of Terrorism list and to lobby Congress to
undeservedly lift the trade embargo.

Throughout this normalization process, the administration has stretched
and arguably violated U.S. law in order to fulfill the Castro regime's
demands for normalization. Cuba's bucket list has largely been fulfilled
except for two items: removal of trade embargo and financial reparations
for supposed damages caused by the U.S.

The trade embargo, codified under the Cuban Liberty and Democracy Act of
1996, can only be repealed through an act of Congress. Numerous
bipartisan measures from the 114th Congress clearly indicate a rejection
of the president's dangerous new policy and a certainty that the Cuban
government has not met the basic conditions for its repeal.

To the chagrin of the Castro regime, concessions via executive action
have plateaued. The administration's recent vote in support of the
embargo at the U.N. general assembly has also undoubtedly upset Havana.
Having grown accustomed to getting all for nothing, Cuba is now
resorting to an old tactic of pressuring the U.S. by unleashing Cuban

In response to Nicaragua's brutality, the State Department has only
insubstantial statements asking for "all countries to respect the human
rights of migrants and to ensure humane treatment of individuals seeking
asylum or other forms of protection in accordance with international law
and their own national laws."

Obama's capitulation to the Castro regime has called into question the
administration's commitment to the oppressed Cuban people. Hollow press
releases from the State Department are inconsequential.

Considering the protected status and many benefits Nicaraguans and their
government are given by the U.S., the administration can ensure a
positive outcome for the Cuban refugees.

Source: Has Cuba Manufactured a Refugee Crisis? -

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