Jorge Duany—“Cuban Migration: A Postrevolution Exodus Ebbs and Flows”


“Cuban Migration: A Postrevolution Exodus Ebbs and Flows” by Jorge Duany (for the Migration Policy Institute) examines the flow of Cubans to the United States at different historical junctures. He begins with a background (‘Prerevolutionary Flows’), starting with the Spanish colonial period; then moves towards the ‘postrevolution exodus,’ including the ‘Historical Exiles’ (1959-62), the ‘Freedom Flights’ (1965–73), the Mariel Exodus of 1980, the Balsero Crisis of 1994, the Post-Soviet Exodus (1995–2017); and ends with the more recent normalization of relations and its impact on migration. He concludes by indicating that the long-term impact of policy shifts in the U.S. is remains unclear bit that current trends suggest that Cuban immigration will be reduced to about 20,000 persons per year and that larger numbers of Cuban migrants may turn to Latin America or Europe. Read full article via Migration Policy Institute. Here are just a few excerpts:

In 1959, the Cuban Revolution unleashed the largest refugee flow to the United States in history, with approximately 1.4 million people fleeing the island after the toppling of dictator Fulgencio Batista by Fidel Castro’s guerrilla fighters. Since then, Cuba has remained one of the top migrant-sending nations to its northern neighbor, and the Cuban exodus has been oriented primarily toward the mainland United States. In addition, at least 300,000 Cubans have relocated to Spain, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Mexico, and other Latin American and Caribbean countries, as well as Canada and European nations such as Germany, Italy, and France.

Cuba was the fifth-largest source of immigrants admitted to the United States for legal permanent residence during 2015 (more than 54,000 persons); just six countries had a larger immigrant population in the United States, with some 1,211,000 U.S. residents born in Cuba—nearly 940,000 of whom now live in Florida. In total, approximately 2 million U.S. residents are natives of Cuba or claim Cuban ancestry.

This massive and sustained flow—spawned not only by political and economic conditions in Cuba, but also by U.S. policies that have served as a magnet for this migration—has drawn substantial attention from scholars, journalists, and policymakers, particularly in the context of longstanding Cold War tensions between the two neighbors. As those tensions eased and the long-time adversaries moved to normalize relations late in the Obama administration, migration flows picked up amid concerns that the United States would revoke preferential treatment for Cuban migrants. With the Trump administration taking steps to reverse some of its predecessor’s Cuba policies, the effects on future migration flows remain to be seen.

This article examines the history of Cuban emigration—primarily to the United States—which has grown more diverse over time, particularly since the revolution. It also explores the Cold War context that has shaped relations and migration policy between the two countries for decades, as well as current debates and questions surrounding Cuban migration as a result of the normalization of relations. [. . .]

For full article, see

[One of Cuba’s many old cars on a street in Havana. (Photo: Pedro Szekely).]

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