Saturday, February 20, 2010

El Circulo Cubano: The Cuban Exodus 1959 (2)

The Cuban Refugee Program was established in February 1961. as a federal effort to provide assistance in handling the great influx from Cuba, as well as helping to ease the impact of the exodus on Miami's population. Between 1961 and 1978 some 300,000 Cubans were resettled throughout the United States. Although the bulk of the exodus of the early 1960s were directed to New York, New Jersey, California and Illinois, they still managed to find their way over the years back to Miami.(1)

On April 17, 1961, the U.S. supported a Cuban-American exile invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs. The invasion failed three days later, and a total of 1,180 soldiers were captured and imprisoned until their release in December, 1962.

In 1965, the Cuban government responding to internal problems or pressures allowed Cubans in the United States to pick up relatives who wanted to leave the country. Some five thousand Cubans left the island for the United States until the boatlifts were brought to a halt and "both countries agreed to an orderly airlift. " Under the leadership of President Johnson, "freedom flights" program begins. These airlifts which were known as "freedom flights" lasted from December 1965 to 1973. The twice-daily flights brought 260,500 persons during those years." (1)

On November 2, 1966 The Cuban Adjustment Act allows 123,000 Cubans to apply for permanent residence in the U.S.

In 1980, between April 15 and October 31, there was again a mass movement of Cubans of approximately 125,000 who were part of the Mariel boatlift, who departed from Cuba's Mariel Harbor to the United States. As a result of again internal pressures due to the economy and tensions within the island, such as the 10,000 Cubans that stormed the Peruvian Embassy grounds seeking asylum from the Communist regime. Castro proclaimed that the Port of Mariel would be opened, and that anyone who wanted to leave Cuba could do so, as long as someone could pick them up. This was great maneuvering on Castro's part being the opportunist that he was, this way he would get rid of the undesirables, who opposed his regime as well as improve the economy. So the exodus for the Cubans with Castro"s agreement was underway.

The negative aspect of this boatlift, was that among this exodus of approximately 125,000 were individuals who had been released from Cuban jails of which some were later discovered to be violent felons and from mental health facilities, also included were the terminally ill. Many of these refugees, arrived in over-crowed boats that friends and relatives in Florida went to Mariel to pick them up, of which some were placed in refugee camps, while the criminals were denied asylum and held in federal prisons to undergo deportation hearings.

This exodus was ended by mutual agreement between the two governments in 1980. A memorandum from President Jimmy Carter was issued "allowing up to 3,500 refugees sanctuary in the U.S. First priority would go to released political prisoners, second to members of families already in the U.S., and third to refugees seeking political asylum." (2) Jimmy Carter was heavily criticized for his handling of the situation.

On Dec 22, 1980 was the initiation of meetings between U.S. and Cuban officials to discuss the repatriation of the Cuban migrants of the Mariel exodus. (3)

Dec 14, 1984 The United States and Cuba conclude a migration pact under which Cuba agrees to accept the return of some Cuban migrants of the Mariel crisis. (3)

On May 20, 1985 Radio Marti begins broadcasts to Cuba. The Cuban government immediately jams the signal. Castro later suspends the 1984 U.S.- Cuban immigration agreement. (3)

In August of 1994 "Following Castro's declaration of an open migration policy, a new boat lift begins when 30,000 refugees set sail from Cuba as economic conditions continue to deteriorate. President Clinton instructs the U.S. Coast Guard to interdict migrants and transport to non-U.S. safe havens (3)

In September of 1994 "The U.S. and Cuba issue a joint communique on measures that ensure that migration between the two countries is safe, legal, and orderly. The U.S. agrees that total legal migration to the U.S. will be a minimum of 20,000 per year." (3)

To be continued: The Cuban Exodus 1959 (3)

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