The number of Cubans fleeing poverty and oppression on the island surpassed the Mariel exodus of 1980, as U.S. government data reveal that more than 140,000 Cubans were detained at U.S. borders between October last year and May. The staggering figure surpasses the 125,000 Cubans who departed from the Port of Mariel near Havana between April and October 1980, fleeing the deteriorating economic conditions and the lack of freedoms under Fidel Castro, who came to power in 1959. Just in the past two years, which coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic and a severe economic crisis on the island, the number of Cubans who left the country has jumped from 14,015 in fiscal year 2020 to 140,602 from last October through May this year, according to data from U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
It is not clear why fewer Cubans arrived last month, and it is still too early to see if the trend will hold. Several Latin American countries Cubans use as a route to the U.S. border have imposed new requirements on Cubans trying to obtain a visa, measures that Cuban government officials blamed on pressure from the United States. Earlier this month, the Cuban government also ordered foreign embassies in Cuba to stop conducting transactions with Cuba’s virtual currency, resulting in many Latin American embassies suspending visa processing.
Originally published in the Miami Herald. Read more at: https://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/cuba/article262771743.html