Miami: indolence or immunity?
Something substantially different is happening in the heart of Miami with regards to the mass emigration of Cubans across Central American borders. While some community leaders, journalists and charitable organizations in exile have begun to appeal for solidarity with these overland balseros, there has yet to be a wave of donations and offers of refuge for the thousands of Cubans stuck in Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador ...
Many are asking the question, but few are really talking about it: when the Cubans reach the United States, just what is going to happen? Will they all come to Miami, or will they spread out in other States? Is the Government going to provide special special assistance funds?
The interest shown by some Central American authorities and institutions in resolving this humanitarian dilemma is counterproductive, as is the apathy of hundreds of thousands of Cubans in the city that, presumably, most of those now stranded want to reach. There is no massive mobilization to set up the shelters, soup kitchens, clinics and services that these new migrants will need if they head for the sunny city, whether temporarily to stay.
We can only assume that its elected officials, in addition to struggling with complaints about the traffic, crime, wages and pensions for police and firefighters, have a contingency plan in place.
This phenomenon is curious, perhaps almost unique; in the last half century, each time there has been a massive flight (forced migration?) Cubans on the other side have been supportive and cooperative. It was so back during the days of Mariel, despite the resentment from Castro's ploy, as he flooded the city’s streets with lunatics, murderers and rapists. And it was so during the exodus in '94 or "the balseros crisis." At that time businessmen, artists and politicians visited Guantanamo. There were massive shipments of food, clothing and even toys for children. Despite the rugged terrain and harsh camp life, the thousands of Cubans concentrated there felt they were not alone, and that one day they would reach the United States. Miami, once again, demonstrated its solidarity with this modern flight of the subjugated.
But Miami today is not what it was back during Camarioca, Mariel or Guantánamo. And Cuban emigrants are not the same either. In the Miami of the 21st century's second decade wages remain low, barely enough to pay rent and soaring insurance rates. Work is still scarce and is increasingly demanding, and the Latino population has diversified to the point that the city no longer belongs to Cubans alone, but also to Venezuelans, Argentines and Colombians. Miami no longer seems to be the Promised Land, or that of opportunities, the place portrayed by travelers to Cuba wearing gold chains and worm 120-pound gusanos.
As if that were not enough, the Castro propaganda - and that of like-minded media here - has managed to convey the idea that the Cubans emigrating today are not like those who did so 45, 35 or 25 years ago. It is true that many emigrants have accepted these assumptions. Just go to the airport on any given day and check the passenger list; a high percentage of them are people returning to Cuba as soon as they are permanent residents. They do not even blush when they explain that they are not afraid, that in Cuba nobody ever did anything to them, that they came for a better life, and aren't interested in politics.
In Cuba the regime has also sold the idea of the "economic emigrant." That may be debatable, in theory, but not in practice, when from the more than twenty daily flights to the airports in Havana, Camaguey and Santiago de Cuba, Cubans get off the planes, with smiles from ear to ear, bearing gifts for their families, and without even hesitating to buy a couple of beers for those who made their lives impossible just a year and a day before.
To make matters even worse, most of those interviewed in Costa Rica lack the cultural background or perspicacity to articulate the idea that they are political émigrés. Almost all of them say that they want to reach the United States (Miami) to give their children a better future, to have more opportunities, and to help those relatives who remain in Cuba. It is as if everyone - the Cuban government, US politicians and even the Cubans stuck en route to the United States - had all collaborated to refuse them the political and humanitarian relief that the situation requires.
The reaction of those living in Miami should be understood. And, in the same way, discussed. Because the situation is complex. Cubans settled in this city, and who saw Camarioca, Mariel and Guantanamo, have become hardened, to an extent, to the misfortunes of their countrymen. Hardened in the sense that one wonders why he should show any solidarity to those who don´t even claim to be seeking freedom, or raise a single flag against the Cuban "revolution," but shout "freedom" at Nicaraguan police who are probably hungrier than they are, and who in Cuba never joined the marches in front of the Church of Santa Rita.
In a previous article, at the beginning of this crisis, we cited the words of St. Augustine, who encouraged man to be ruthless against sin, but merciful towards the sinner. In this case, it would be advisable to separate the human from the social and political, and to do away with all that leads to sin, that is, the crime of harming people.