WASHINGTON — Even after several cosmetic reforms, Cuba is bleeding refugees coming from its shores to the U.S.
Reuters reports that the number of Cubans escaping their country has increased significantly and reached 1994 levels, where tens of thousands left Cuba to seek refuge elsewhere.
Yet American Alan Gross is being held in Cuba while the American government does nothing.
The U.S. State Department announced that it is lengthening the majority of visitor’s visas from 6 months to 5 years and gives them an opportunity to visit the U.S. multiple times over the 5-year period. Cuba had opened up their travel restrictions this past January and hoped it would slow the high number of the outflow of Cuba’s population.
Cuba’s report said that 46,662 Cubans migrated permanently in 2012, which rivals the 47,000 plus that left Cuba in 1994. The past 5 years has seen 39,000 Cubans migrated at an annual rate.
Communist Cuba is struggling economically and heavily relies on subsidies from socialist Venezuela, which was started by Hugo Chavez and continued by his second-in-command Nicolas Maduro. Maduro’s election was highly disputed but the opposition and their candidate Henrique Capriles were marginalized by Maduro’s political machine. Yet Venezuela is suffering from dwindling supplies of toilet paper and wine for Catholic Communion.
Cuba’s Raul Castro (who is stepping down after 2018) and Fidel Castro have benefited from the subsidies to last this long while U.S. embargo continues to pound the Cuban economy.