The privilege of being free
Facts About Cuban Exiles is privileged to comport its mission to its name. Recently three words have hit the headlines from the book Cuban Privilege by Susan Eckstein: privilege, a special advantage or immunity available only to a person or group: exile, one barred from one's country for political reasons: and refugee, one forced to leave one’s country to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster. FACE believes these terms are facts that apply to Cubans arriving in the U.S. due to their opposition to a harsh dictatorship.
As far as privilege, Cubans are not the only ones who have received political asylum. And certainly, Cubans have been exiled from Cuba, such as the 75 members of the Cuban Spring of 2003, deported and never allowed back. Her assertion that Cubans are not refugees as they have not faced true persecution is hard to square with firing squads, expropriation, indoctrination, and the Cuban gulag, not to mention the lack of political rights and freedom of the press and assembly forced on Cubans since 1959. Any of these are examples of blatant persecution which would drive a person to seek refuge.
And why did Cubans receive any favorable treatment? They got visa waivers because they wanted to become freedom fighters and in fact joined Brigade 2506, landing in Cuba with U.S. backing to do just that. In fact, a few short years earlier Hungarian freedom fighters had received identical treatment after their brave revolt against the Soviets. Allies should receive preferential treatment. Cuban exiles favored free market economics and democracy, and so as time went by Cubans joined the political party of their choice, electing representatives from both parties.
A more proper title for the book should have been Cuban Opportunities, as this is all Cuban exiles got, the opportunity to try out their talents in a land of political and economic freedom. The fact that Miami became the Gateway to the Americas is a testament to what is an indisputable fact: Cubans plus freedom equals economic prosperity and political representation.
An FIU Cuban professor invited the author to Miami, a Cuban professor debated her, Cuban Americans in the audience heard her, asked questions, and voiced their opinions or objections while others were peacefully protesting her conclusions outside. This is a privilege from the country where these exiles took refuge and did their very best with the opportunities made available to them.