Despite the recent political pleasantries exchanged between Cuba and the US, such as President Obama’s visit to the island and the recent availability of commercial flights between the two nations, Cuban citizens continue to flee the island. And no, not on direct commercial flights to the US, but by way of other nations like Ecuador, Mexico and Canada or, more disturbingly, by way of exploitive smugglers, rafts and rickety boats.
All the glitz and glamour surrounding the relatively new public relations between Cuba and the US does not seem to reassure Cuban citizens. The number of Cubans landing in the US continues to grow, indicating that the political bonding has had no positive effect on the impoverished and oppressive lifestyle of the Cubans living in Cuba. Interestingly, since President Obama’s visit in 2014, the number of Cuban exiles arriving in the US has skyrocketed (FactTank).
This summer, droves of Cubans risked their lives and political statuses to reach the shores of Florida. Throughout summer 2016, hundreds of Cubans have landed on numerous Florida beaches after enduring life threatening journeys at sea. 60 Cubans landed in the Florida Keys this past July. In June, off Dania Beach, 11 Cuban refugees threatened to stab themselves if the US Coast Gaurd intercepted their attempt to reach dry US soil (or sand rather).
Recent exiles explain that for the people of Cuba the diplomatic progress shows no connection to public progress. In fact, Cubans are more worried than ever that these new relations will inevitably bring an end to the Wet foot/Dry foot policy, making it harder for them to flee for their freedom (NBCMiami). Being friends with the US politically does not ensure a transfer of cultural values such as freedom and happiness.