Zany U.S. Rafting Policy
It's hurricane time in the Caribbean, so we'll have a temporary respite from Cubans floating to Florida on inner tubes from that red island 90 miles away, and even from Cubans brought over in speedboats. Smugglers earn up to $8,000 per person they bring illegally into the United States.
Unlike all other migrants, Cubans who set foot on US shore have a fast track ride toward permanent residency. Thanks to the 1966 Cuban Adjustment Act, Cubans who float, swim or fly here get special treatment since we presume that only an anti-Communist hero would do such a risky and illegal thing.
But wait! The US government set up an office in Havana to bring 20,000 Cubans here legally each year. Some have close relatives here; others have serious political disagreements with Fidel's government, which makes life difficult for them in Cuba. You would think we would encourage Cubans who want to come here to apply for visas at our office in Havana. Instead, Radio Marti, a US government agency, broadcasts into Cuba about how even Cubans who don't meet the standards for our visa can still become legal residents just by stepping on US soil.
So people with criminal records as well as those seeking opportunity jump on rafts or pay smugglers to bring them here on speedboats? Our Coast Guard has recently attempted to stop these modern pirates with their human cargoes from reaching our shores. Some Cubans have drowned as boats collided and Coast Guard officials have had to water hose Cuban swimmers to keep them from our shore. Humiliating!
What's going on, I ask myself? I called Mr. Low Windpipe, my reliable national security source.
"US policy toward Cuba is designed to punish one man, Fidel Castro. For some people he's considered the only important resident of that island. We sign migration treaties with his government and then we subvert those treaties."
I don't get it. How does it punish Castro to lure Cubans here illegally while simultaneously establishing a legal means for them to migrate. It embarrasses the Coast Guard and the Clinton Administration, provokes xenophobia and endangers peoples lives.
"Cuba has become an obsessive compulsion," he explained. "Castro's been disobedient for forty plus years and we haven't been able to work our usual imperial magic on him."
Meaning? I asked.
"His death or surrender, son."
I don't get it. People in the administration are willing to create a crisis just to hurt Castro -- who doesn't get hurt.
"That's it in a nutshell, son. I should mention the fanatic anti-Castro lobby that pours lots of money into political campaigns. Of course, a president with principals and cojones could stop all this nonsense."
Do you think that after the 2000 election
"Sure," he said, "President Beatty will certainly change the policy."
Hugh O. La Bounty Chair of Applied Interdisciplinary Knowledge, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona Pomona, CA 91768 tel:909-869-3115 fax:909-869-4751 mailto:email@example.com http://www.csupomona.edu/~slandau
Saul Landau is the Hugh O. LaBounty Chair of Interdisciplinary Applied Knowledge at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, 3801 W. Temple Ave. Pomona, CA 91768 tel - 909-869-3115 fax - 909-869-4751