In 2014 Cuba reformed its immigration laws allowing Cubans residing abroad to apply for repatriation, and regain all citizenship rights. And in 2016 more than14,000 Cubans – a new record-- completed their repatriation procedures, a number that is bound to go through the roof due to the repressive and cruel domestic policies of the Trump administration.
In the previous two years over 13,000 Cuban-born U.S. residents had already requested repatriation, according to José Ramón Cabañas, the island’s ambassador to the U.S., who added that over 250,000 Cubans travel to the island to visit each year.
Many of the repatriated Cubans keep their residence in the U.S. or other places and divide their time between both countries, since the Island immigration laws establish that Cubans can stay abroad for 24 months without losing their citizenship rights.
Even though the number of those returning to their homeland may seem insignificant next to the hundreds of thousands who have left Cuba in the last decade, it represents a truly significant --even radical-- transformation of traditional Cuban-American attitudes toward Cuba, dominated for decades by an absurd rhetoric of war and violence.
In case you need more proof of how fast attitudes are changing among Cuban-Americans, after diplomatic relations were restored, traveling to the island with children and grandchildren has become fashionable among Miami Cuban-Americans who, at the same time they help their families on the island, take the opportunity to celebrate weddings and birthdays in beautiful Old Havana or Varadero Beach.
One can almost hear the cries of heresy coming from people who either underestimate the depth of nationalist feelings in Cubans of all political stripes, or who are part of the most recalcitrant and fossilized segment of the Cuban-American community which, incredibly enough, remains stuck in a 50-year-old time warp.
Don’t misunderstand me, misinformation and bad faith about Cuba are very much alive, but the number of people paying attention to such vicious propaganda is fast declining, despite Trump’s anachronistic anti-Cuban speech last June 16 in Miami, and the support of shameless vendepatrias like the spineless Marco Rubio and the clueless Mario Díaz-Balart.
Something is certain: No matter how hard Trump and his supporters try to turn back the clock of history, they will not succeed. Cubans at both sides of the Florida Strait will never allow it.