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Cuba: Reforms, Migration and International Relations

Publisher WRITENET
Author Patrick Costello
Publication Date 1 November 1995
Cite as WRITENET, Cuba: Reforms, Migration and International Relations, 1 November 1995, available at: [accessed 29 May 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.


In July and August 1994, over 35,000 Cubans endeavoured to leave the island, many in dangerously unseaworthy vessels.[1] The exodus was the culmination of months of internal political tension, and to many observers it seemed as though the collapse of the Cuban system had arrived.[2] Yet one year later, the Cuban political system is not only intact but the economy seems to be recovering: in his 26 July speech this year, President Fidel Castro announced that the economy had grown by 2 per cent in the first half of 1995.[3]

Cuba's place in the international community has also been changing. In October 1995, President Castro made only his third visit to the UN since his guerrilla forces took power on the island in 1959. Yet when the President attended the UN fiftieth anniversary celebrations in New York, he received more than 230 invitations for meals with business executives who oppose the U.S. trade embargo of the island.[4] The visit and the response are signs of what has been a dramatic change in both the internal economic policies of the island and the external response to them.

Developments in Cuba's relations with the world as well as its internal reforms over the last few years have been a complex process involving internal actors as well as the better known international circumstances which precipitated the economic crisis. This paper will attempt to survey the main actors involved in the process and analyse the developments which led to the refugee crisis of 1994 before making an assessment of the prospects for the future.


2.1 The Cuban State

The Cuban state has classically been portrayed as a satellite of the Soviet system. However, the history of the revolution shows a series of moments of tension between the organizationally weak "radicals" who led the successful insurrection against the Government of General Batista in 1959 and the "orthodox" pro-Soviet communist party, the Popular Socialist Party (Partido Socialista Popular - PSP).[5] During the 1960s, the "radicals" were in charge and the country was ruled by decree until 1976. Despite the formation in 1965 of the modern Cuban Communist Party (Partido Comunista Cubana - PCC) as a unitary body including "orthodox" and "radicals", it was a marginal body and did not hold its first Congress until 1975.[6] During this period, the only effective political structures were the national network of neighbourhood committees, the Committees for the Defence of the Revolution (Comités para la Defensa de la Revolución - CDRs), the Land Reform Institute (Instituto Nacional para la Reforma Agraria - INRA) and the Rebel Army (Ejército Rebelde), later named the Revolutionary Armed Forces (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias - FAR), all of which were controlled by the "radicals".[7]

During this period, the leadership chose a development strategy based on agricultural exports, particularly sugar, to provide the foundation for industrial development. Through nationwide mobilization, the Government attempted to increase the size of the harvest, culminating in the failed attempt to achieve a 10 million tonne sugar harvest for 1970. The setback placed in question the whole mode of economic organization.[8] As a consequence, the economy was reorganized under the auspices of a Central Planning Board, following models being implemented in the USSR and Eastern Europe. In 1972, Cuba joined the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance, widely known as COMECON, linking it further into the Soviet economic system. The first Congress of the PCC in 1975 launched the first five-year plan and a new system of economic management which increased the autonomy of state enterprises, emphasizing profitability and material incentives. This emphasis was extended by the introduction of free farmer's markets in 1980, which allowed private farmers to sell their surplus products for extra income in order to challenge the growing black market.[9]

Changes in economic organization had political consequences which institutionalized the revolutionary state and gave the "orthodox" a greater level of social support within the growing bureaucracy created by the new state structures. Between 1977 and 1987, the number of administrative workers rose from 90,000 to 248,000 and the number of managers increased by 41 per cent.[10] The 1976 Constitution[11] created a political system with a Soviet style National Assembly elected by Organs of Peoples Power (Organos de Poder Popular - OPP)(Articles 67- 121). However, the National Assembly, indirectly elected and only meeting twice a year was largely a rubber stamp for decisions made by the PCC. The Constitution gave the Party a statutory role as the leading force in society (Article 5). Communist Party membership grew from 45,000 in 1965 to 523,000 in 1988, and the PSP who had been excluded from power were rehabilitated within the Party leadership.[12]

2.2 The Cuban People

Outside of the intra-elite battles between "orthodox" and "radicals", there has been little toleration of pluralism of opinion within Cuba. Both the "radical" approach to government based on the experience of guerrilla warfare and the "orthodox" democratic centralism of the PSP have promoted essentially top-down decision making which has reinforced the popular perception of Cuba being controlled by Fidel Castro alone. The reason for the lack of political pluralism regularly expressed by the Cuban leadership is that toleration of opposition would threaten the survival of the island's political system given the proximity of the U.S. and its hostility to the presence of an avowedly socialist régime on its doorstep.[13] In such circumstances, the levels of support for the Government are extremely difficult to assess, both because dissidence has been repressed and because the U.S. has had a political interest in over- estimating the levels of opposition to the Government.

Initially, many of President Castro's opponents went into exile. Indeed, emigration has been used as a safety valve from the 1960s onwards. It provided a way for the Government to be rid of potential dissidence and unemployment at times of economic crisis.[14] Within Cuba, however, popular support for the régime is thought to have increased during the 1960s as a result of impressive social gains in the areas of right to work, education and health care. Infant mortality, for example, dropped to 13.6 per 1,000, equivalent to the levels in the industrialized world.[15] In parallel, however, the ability to criticize the leadership became more limited. Social organizations were used to mobilize people towards achieving the objectives of the leadership rather than to allow any democratic input into those objectives. The institutionalization of the 1970s deepened this lack of democracy since the emphasis on profitability of enterprises gave managers significant powers. Trade unions, for example, became either "transmission belts for higher decisions or means of mobilizing for production".[16] Political power became centralized in the PCC: "The bitter Havana joke is that Cuba does have a two-party system after all: the Communist Party and the Bureaucracy Party."[17]

By the late 1980s, the political legitimacy of the Government had been undermined by the growing bureaucracy of the Party and resentment of the growth of privilege and corruption within party and state structures. In addition, the tensions between the ageing leadership and a younger, educated generation who had not experienced the pre-revolutionary government were adding to the political crisis[18] As a consequence, a number of unofficial dissident groups emerged. Their numbers are small: at the end of 1991, according to government figures, there were approximately 50 such groups in the country, comprising around 1,000 people. For a brief period in 1988-1989, their activities appeared to be tolerated but the government attitude later hardened and levels of harassment and arrests increased.[19]

The result has been a poor human rights record. While not comparable with the levels of gross human rights violations in other countries in the region (eg Haiti, Guatemala), there are "major problems ... attributed to discrimination on political grounds and to the lack of freedom of expression and association".[20] The levels of human rights violations are deeply disputed however. Human rights monitoring is illegal in Cuba and no human rights monitoring group within Cuba has gained legal status.[21] In addition, the Cuban Government has not recognized the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur which means that the reports to the Human Rights Commission have been written without the benefit of a visit to the island.[22] Nonetheless, over 500 prisoners of conscience are believed to be imprisoned in Cuba. Most of these are members of unofficial political, trade union or human rights groups, although others are believed to be held for trying to leave the country illegally (under Articles 216-17 of the Penal Code). Many are also held under Article 72 of the Penal Code which defines "the dangerous state" as a "proclivity of a person to commit crimes as demonstrated by behaviour that manifestly contradicts the norms of socialist morals".[23]

In June 1991, the Government agreed to form a new body, the Rapid Response Brigades (Brigadas de Respuesta Rápida), organized by volunteers at a neighbourhood level to "confront and liquidate any sign of counter-revolution or crime". A number of reports have since been received by human rights organizations according to which Brigades, together with the already existing CDRs have organized so-called "acts of repudiation". In these acts, dissidents and human rights activists have been verbally and physically assaulted by large groups of people.[24] However, it is important to note that the opposition within Cuba has never reached a level of strength that would enable it to threaten the régime seriously. There has been no large social organization or church around which the opposition has been able to structure itself and the small existing groups have focused on a human rights agenda rather than on preparing a coherent alternative programme of government.[25]

2.3 The U.S. Government

Given the proximity of Cuba to the U.S., it is inevitable that U.S. policy has played a key role in determining the nature of Cuba's international policy. Relations between the two countries deteriorated sharply when Fidel Castro came to power and the U.S. Government broke diplomatic relations in January 1961. Three months later, the U.S. sponsored an invasion by Cuban exiles. The so-called Bay of Pigs invasion failed and subsequent policy focused on diplomatic and economic isolation. The U.S. pressed for the expulsion of Cuba from the OAS in 1962, and in February of that year a comprehensive trade embargo was imposed because of the Government's expropriation, without compensation, of about US$ 1.8 billion in property owned by U.S. citizens. The trade embargo deprived the Cuban economy of its biggest export market, creating a closer link to the USSR as the main alternative market. Tensions between the two countries were at their highest during the October 1962 Cuban missile crisis, caused by the USSR's attempt to install nuclear missile sites in Cuba.[26]

The presence of an openly communist government in the hemisphere threatened U.S. policy goals both in terms of the Cold War and the Monroe doctrine of non-interference in the U.S. sphere of influence.[27] A further source of dispute has been the presence of the U.S. naval base on the island at Guantánamo Bay, despite Cuban objections. Hostility and the embargo have been the dominant features of U.S. government policy towards Cuba. At different times, often associated with periods of detente in the Cold War, relations have improved, such as when "interests sections" were established in each nation's capital in 1977. However, they have subsequently been undermined, such as during the Mariel exodus of 1980, when 120,000 Cubans were allowed to migrate to South Florida. U.S. officials were furious that common criminals and patients from mental hospitals were among those encouraged to leave. In 1984, the U.S. and Cuba reached an agreement on the return of persons from the Mariel boatlift, but the agreement was suspended in 1985 after the U.S. began broadcasts of Radio Martí from Miami.[28]

2.4 The Miami Exile Community

There are more than a million Cuban exiles in the U.S. The majority are in Florida.[29] During the 1960s, the exile community, most of whom are vehemently opposed to President Castro's Government, contained many groups who advocated the armed overthrow of the Government. Groups such as Omega 7 and Alpha 66 also gained support from the U.S. administration. After President Eisenhower approved funding for a Cuban "paramilitary organization" in 1960, the CIA was closely involved in the arming and training of these groups.[30] Armed opposition groups are still based in Miami, the best known being Alpha 66, set up after the failed Bay of Pigs invasion. The group claims to have tried to kill President Castro four times, staged military raids in Cuba and organized illegal radio stations broadcasting to the island.[31]

U.S. administrations have since distanced themselves from the more overtly violent of the anti- Castro groups. In 1980, the Cuban-American National Foundation (CANF) was founded with the explicit aim of bringing down President Castro's Government. Although never opposed to armed movements, the focus of its work has been to promote the strengthening of the U.S. embargo against Cuba and to increase the levels of anti-government propaganda being sent to the island through support for initiatives such as Radio and TV Martí. It dominated the U.S. policy debate on Cuba for over a decade through an unchallenged monopoly in representing the Miami Cubans in Washington.[32] Its leader, Jorge Mas Canosa, is still considered the most powerful representative of the Miami exiles. The electoral importance of Florida for all aspiring U.S. presidential candidates has meant that the Cuban vote has been indispensable and Mr. Mas Canosa has been able to promise the delivery of that vote.[33]

The CANF monopoly has been achieved partly through the support of many Miami Cubans. However, there has been an intolerance of pluralism of opinion which parallels that within Cuba. The arrival of the Mariel exiles in 1980 introduced new opinions to Miami. While many of the original exiles are motivated by their desire to reclaim property and land expropriated by the Cuban state, many of the new exiles wish to maintain contact with their families in Cuba. Their concern for the effects of the embargo on their relatives has led to a decline in support for the CANF's outright opposition to dialogue with the Cuban Government.[34] There are reports which document instances of harassment and intimidation against members of the Miami exile community who have expressed views different to that of the CANF. For example in 1992, Americas Watch found that the Miami Cuban community was "dominated by fiercely anti-Communist forces who are strongly opposed to contrary viewpoints".[35]

2.5 Other Countries

The diplomatic isolation of Cuba following the expulsion from the OAS in 1962 meant that by 1965 only Mexico and Canada of the countries of the western hemisphere recognized the island's Government.[36] This isolation was exacerbated both by the close relations with the Eastern bloc at the height of the Cold War and by the Government's policy of exporting revolution to other countries, in particular to Latin America in the 1960s and to Africa in the 1970s. However, as explained below, since the mid-1970s, foreign trade with Latin America and the Caribbean has developed significantly. By the end of the 1980s, Cuba had established relations with 20 out of 40 of the region's countries and discussion of the island's re-entry into the OAS have been on the agenda since 1975.[37] Cuba's increasing acceptance within the international community has also been highlighted by its election to a three year term on the UN Human Rights Commission in 1988, later renewed despite a successful U.S. diplomatic initiative to appoint a Special Rapporteur to Cuba. In 1989, Cuba was elected to the Security Council of the UN.[38]

The improvement of Cuba's political and commercial relations with Europe, Canada and Latin America over the last decade has increasingly isolated U.S. policy. For example, for the last four years, the UN General Assembly has voted against the U.S. economic embargo, this year voting 117 votes to 3.[39]


It has often been assumed that the current economic and political crisis in Cuba stemmed purely from the collapse of the Soviet bloc and the end of the Cold War. However, it can be argued that the roots of both the current crisis and the process of reform stem from the mid- 1980s when internal tensions concerning bureaucratization of the State and the Communist Party combined with tensions with President Gorbachev's USSR to promote a number of significant internal reforms.[40] This analysis goes some way to explaining why the collapse of the USSR has not so far meant the demise of the Cuban Government.

3.1 The Economy

Since 1986, the Cuban economic system has undergone a fundamental transformation, a real 'revolution', moving with astonishing rapidity from an inefficient, centrally-planned sugar-dominated system, largely dependent on barter trade with the Eastern bloc, to an economy that is increasingly open, and whose external trading enterprises are increasingly autonomous.[41]

In the mid-1980s, Cuba faced a number of new economic problems. The fall in the price of sugar in 1983-1984 raised the cost of debt commitments to 58 per cent of export earnings. In 1986, the oil price fell, reducing the earnings from the re-sale of Soviet oil by 50 per cent. In 1987, the fall in the U.S. dollar increased Cuba's Western debt to US$ 5.5 billion. Finally, perestroika in the USSR began to threaten the old USSR-Cuba relationship and the debt to the USSR (an estimated US$ 10 billion) started to look increasingly serious.[42]

In response, the Government introduced a package of austerity measures, including reduction of subsidies and electricity price increases. A ceiling was put on hard-currency spending. These measures were introduced as part of a broader rectificación process which aimed at resolving problems of inefficiency and consumer shortages. Rectificación was based on a revival of the economic philosophy of the "radicals" of the 1960s, and, in particular, that of Che Guevara. It stressed the role of voluntary labour in the form of "mini-brigades" and "contingents" which became widespread, particularly in the construction sector.[43] In addition, the farmers' markets were ended and private house construction and sales were banned.[44]

Internationally, Cuba began to attempt to reduce its dependency on the USSR which was increasingly seen as economically unsound by leading Cuban economists:

The more developed socialist countries can thus contribute to the development of the dependent countries; but if the norm is maintained whereby foreign trade is carried out on the basis of market mechanisms and the law of value, they can also participate, to a greater or lesser degree, in their exploitation.[45]

Trade with Latin America, for example, grew steadily from US$ 359 million in 1985 to US$ 1.33 billion in 1988.[46] In addition, the Cuban Government refused to accept perestroika in Cuba, which would have meant an increasing emphasis on profitability for enterprises and material incentives for workers as well as the introduction of assembly industries in which raw materials from the Eastern bloc would have been processed into consumer goods in Cuba and re-exported. This would have added another level of dependency in the relation between Cuba and COMECON.[47]

Nonetheless, the collapse of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union dealt a serious blow to an economy already in crisis. By 1991, COMECON trade had fallen by 90 per cent and overall imports were down 60 per cent compared to two years earlier.[48] Soviet oil deliveries dropped dramatically which meant the loss of previous income from oil re-export and a serious impact on the output of the country's industrial and mechanized agricultural sectors. National output fell by more than 50 per cent between 1989 and 1993.[49]

The declaration by the Government of a "Special Period in Peacetime" in 1990 was a recognition of the scale of the crisis. Consumption was curtailed both through cuts in food rations and in the uses of fuel for electricity, street lighting, radio and television. Virtually all magazines and newspapers suspended publication and Cuban farmers were encouraged to use livestock to pull carts and ploughs. Major new industrial projects, such as a nickel plant, an oil refinery and a nuclear power plant were suspended. "Contingents" of urban workers were mobilized to promote agricultural production in an effort to achieve food self-sufficiency.[50]

In parallel to this immediate response, the Government promoted foreign investment to attempt to overcome the shortfalls in foreign exchange. By May 1992, Cuba had eliminated restrictions on foreign investments, even in the sugar industry and by late 1994, the Government reported over 150 foreign-Cuban joint ventures, comprising over US$ 1.5 billion in value.[51] Most of this investment was in tourism. In 1989, there were 326,000 tourists who visited Cuba. By mid-1994, Cuba's Tourism Minister indicated that the island may receive one million tourists by 1996 with an annual income of US$ 1 billion. Other joint ventures have included the sale of the country's telephone system and the involvement of 10 firms in the Cuban nickel mining industry by early 1995.[52]

Alongside the joint ventures, the Government sought new markets. While trade with the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe did not cease, new trade relationships were developed with countries in Latin America, Western Europe and elsewhere. For example, Cuba's tobacco industry has revived as a consequence of sales in Western Europe and barter deals have been arranged with Iran for the exchange of Iranian oil for Cuban pharmaceuticals and agricultural expertise. New commodities have been marketed internationally, such as those of the the biotechnology industry for pharmaceuticals. Likewise the country's medical facilities have been marketed as "health tourism".[53]

While reforms of Cuba's international economic relations occurred rapidly in response to the crisis, domestic reform has been much slower. In July 1993, a decree made US dollars legal tender in Cuba. In part this was a response to the recognition of the number of Cubans now working in joint ventures with regular access to foreign currency (estimated at 21 per cent by the Government).[54] By legalizing the dollar, the Government prevented the informal economy from going underground. As a follow-up measure, in September 1993, small businesses in a number of crafts and service industries were legalized. A new agrarian reform in June 1994 divided state lands into small staple food cooperatives (Unidades Básicas de Producción Agrícola - UBPCs). Retail outlets have since been de-regulated and, in September 1994, the farmers' private markets were re-opened.[55]

3.2 Political Reform

When a group of Havanans meet to complain about their hardships, many things are mentioned: the promised bananas that didn't arrive, the disappearance of eggs, the lack of soap, the tourist ghettos, problems with transport, electricity cuts, exorbitant black market prices etc. But I have never heard people talk about the lack of human rights because it involves an intellectualized discourse.[56]

Although dissidence grew in response to the austerity of the "Special Period", it never reached levels at which the Government itself was threatened (See above 2.2 The Cuban People). Nonetheless, a number of factors have conspired to produce an identifiable political crisis in Cuba. The dramatic economic decline had significant social consequences: the scarcity of food and the decline of social provisions, previously the cornerstone of support for the régime, have both generated political apathy and a cynicism about existing political institutions.[57]

The changes to the domestic economy in response to the economic crisis, and particularly, the July 1993 "dollarization" decree have created a growing resentment among those sectors who historically have been most loyal to the Government. The visibly greater benefits gained by those with access to dollars challenges a political culture which has long stressed equality: corruption is back on the political agenda. Other factors include the expectations of political change, especially amongst the young, in the aftermath of the reforms and subsequent transformations in the USSR, and the long term impact of three and a half decades of politicization which created a well educated, politically articulate population.[58]

The political reforms in response to this crisis, while not involving a decisive change in the structure of the political system, have nonetheless been significant. Within the Communist Party, there were major changes: 56 per cent of the Central Committee and 11 out of 25 Politburo members were replaced by the 1991 PCC Congress. These changes involved the introduction of reformers from the new generation and the removal of several veterans of the guerrilla war. In 1992, the Constitution was reformed. Although largely a measure to remove references to the Soviet Union, the changes included the opening of the Communist Party to religious believers and the direct election of National Assembly delegates with non-Party candidates allowed to stand and with the Party removed from the nominating process.[59] In February 1993, this process continued with the National Assembly election of the Council of Ministers. Over half of its members were replaced including "radical" and "orthodox" leaders. While President Castro and Raúl Castro, head of the armed forces, retained significant power, the promotion of reformers such as Carlos Lage to lead the economics team and Roberto Robaina as Foreign Minister is a sign of the accommodation of the new generation within the political structures.[60]

In 1993, the Government made some gestures on human rights issues. A number of political prisoners were released and allowed to travel abroad and there were fewer reports of actions by the Rapid Response Brigades.[61] However, despite these changes, the Special Rapporteur was still noting in 1994 that the human rights situation had not significantly improved as individuals continued to be imprisoned under the "dangerous state" and "illegal exit" measures of the penal code.[62] These small changes contrast dramatically with the Government overtures to the political exile community. In April 1994, a conference was held in Havana, the first meeting of Cuban exiles with the Government since 1978. The "Nation and Emigration" conference was sponsored by the Government which chose and invited over 200 exiles to participate. While the conference was closed, a reception with President Castro was filmed in which a number of the exiles were seen greeting the Cuban President.[63] The agreements which came out of the conference involved a number of minor government concessions to the exiles including the easing of restrictions on visits by exiles to their families and the allowing of exile children to study on the island.[64]

3.3 U.S.-Cuba Relations

New opportunities to change the antagonistic nature of U.S.-Cuba relations arose with the end of the Cold War, the election of a Democratic President to the White House and the new openings for economic investment in Cuba which were being exploited by Europe and the U.S.'s partners in NAFTA. Balanced against this was the strength of the Cuban-American lobby, led by Jorge Mas Canosa's CANF, historically opposed to any dialogue with the Cuban Government. Initially, the CANF position held sway as during the 1992 election campaign, Bill Clinton's support for the Cuba Democracy Act propelled President Bush into signing the act.[65] The new law strengthened the existing economic embargo by prohibiting U.S. subsidiaries in third countries from trading in Cuba and preventing the entry into the U.S. for 180 days of any ship which had engaged in trade with Cuba.[66] This further reduced Cuba's already restricted access to foreign exchange earnings. Following Mr. Clinton's election, the CANF also managed to prevent Mario Baeza, a Cuban-American investment lawyer, from becoming Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American affairs. The lobby against Mr. Baeza was on the grounds that he was "soft on Castro".[67]

However, following President Clinton's election, there were a number of moves which seemed to be a deliberate easing of tensions between the two countries. In July 1993, the funding of TV Martí was suspended. More U.S. citizens were granted permission to visit Cuba. Discussions began to take place on new immigration, deportation and hijacking agreements.[68] In addition to the changing international atmosphere, these moves were a response to the shifting views of the Miami Cubans. A number of new advocacy groups appeared which challenged the monopoly of the CANF to represent Cuban-Americans. The two most prominent of these groups, Cambio Cubano (Cuban Change) and the Cuban Committee for Democracy (Comité Cubano para la Democracia - CCD) were formed in 1993.[69]

Cambio Cubano is led by Eloy Gutiérrez Menoyo. A founder member of the paramilitary group Alpha 66, he was arrested on a mission inside Cuba and spent 22 years in Cuban jails. Following his release and exile from Cuba in 1987, Gutiérrez Menoyo abandoned support for paramilitary organizations. He now advocates immediate negotiations with the Cuban Government, arguing that continued U.S. sanctions are counter-productive: "The last thing I want to do is open the arteries of a people who live there by maintaining a cruel and foolish embargo".[70]

The CCD was formed by a group of Cuban-American academics and professionals. Its explicit goal is to challenge the CANF and to promote debate on policy issues, including the embargo. Like Cambio Cubano, CCD advocates negotiation with Cuba. Its first president, Marcelino Miyares, believes that the CANF's hard line is an anachronism from the Cold War and out of step with Cuban-Americans who are more open to dialogue.[71]

The battle between the new organizations and the old guard reached a peak with the "Nation and Emigration" conference. Death threats were sent to conference participants by Alpha 66 before the conference and returning participants have been the object of harassment, threats and intimidation. On 6 September 1994, the offices of Réplica magazine were bombed by unknown assailants. Max Lenick, the publisher since 1967, attributed the bombing to his participation in the conference.[72] The strength of feeling is a sign of the significance of the new pro-dialogue groups and the impact they could have on U.S. policy.

3.4 The Refugee Crisis

Since 1966, under the Cuban Adjustment Act, U.S. governments have authorized Cubans who entered the country to take up residence.[73] In addition, under the U.S.-Cuba immigration agreement of 1984, the U.S. Government agreed to provide a maximum number of 20,000 U.S. visas per year to Cuban immigrants. This figure was increased to 27,845 in 1990. However, the U.S. has generally granted far fewer visas than those available. In 1993, for example, only about 2,700 visas for permanent residency were granted to Cubans.[74] As a consequence, many Cubans have taken the risk of travelling to Florida from the island by boat in order to take advantage of the provisions of the Cuba Adjustment Act. This involves risking penalization within Cuba under the "illegal exit" provisions of the penal code as well as the physical risk of the journey in, often, unseaworthy boats.[75]

As the social effects of the economic crisis began to be felt within Cuba, the number of Cuban balseros ("rafters") increased: every year after 1990 more than 2,000 reached the U.S., and in 1993 the number reached a record of over 3,500.[76] While the enforcement of the "illegal exit" laws was relaxed in 1990 and 1991, and fewer people were prosecuted, it remained difficult to gain a U.S. visa and legally leave the country.[77] In March 1994, the Cuban Government released what it called a "secret U.S. document". Allegedly drafted by the U.S. interest section in Havana, it stated that officials were having trouble finding Cuban refugee applicants who could prove political persecution.[78] This suggested that many of those seeking asylum were economic migrants rather than political asylum seekers, a view confirmed by the reports of the UN Special Rapporteur.[79]

In May 1994, the National Assembly passed a series of new austerity measures aimed at creating the conditions for a convertible currency. Taxes were introduced on those working in the informal economy, subsidies to unprofitable state enterprises were cut and the price of state services and goods were raised. The result was massive price increases on cigarettes (566 per cent), petrol (270 per cent), electricity (122 per cent), beer (100 per cent), transport, water, postal rates and telephones.[80]

The new measures added to an already deteriorating economic situation. On 28 May, a group of 124 men, women and children sought asylum in the Belgian embassy, an incident followed by similar occupations in the German embassy and Chilean consulate.[81] Government authorities insisted that asylum-seekers would not be allowed to leave the country in this way, but it took over a month of negotiations before the last group of asylum-seekers returned to their homes.[82] The difficulties of legally leaving the country also led many to attempt to steal or hijack state- owned boats to escape the deteriorating economic conditions. These attempts were faced with harsher treatment by the Cuban authorities. In June 1994, coastal authorities from the port of La Fé shot dead José Inesio Pedraza Izquierdo when he attempted to set to sea for the U.S.[83]

The most serious incident occurred on 13 July 1994, when civilians hijacked the state-owned tugboat, the 13 de Marzo. The Cuban naval authorities pursued the boat and, according to survivors, after trying to stop the boat with pressurized water jets, a tugboat deliberately rammed the 13 de Marzo, causing it to sink. According to government figures, 32 people drowned, although non-governmental sources put the numbers dead at 37.[84] The Cuban Government said that the sinking was accidental, while, on 18 July, President Clinton characterized it as evidence of government "brutality". This appeared to send a signal of encouragement to potential "rafters" and several boats were hijacked within a week.[85] Tensions within Cuba reached their peak on 5 August when police officers tried to prevent a group of Cubans from launching a boat at the port of Havana. The officers were attacked by a hostile crowd who seized their weapons. Two officers were killed, a third was seriously injured and a spontaneous riot ensued in the centre of Havana.[86] The riot was the largest anti-government demonstration since 1959. Certain observers believed that it would precipitate the collapse of the régime. For example, Florida's Governor, Lawton Chiles announced that "The Castro Government is clearly weakening. The day of freedom in Cuba is near."[87]

The announcement proved premature. The protest was rapidly suppressed with hundreds arrested in connection with the 5 August riot. The day after the riot, President Castro announced a change in policy: "We are not opposed ... to letting those who want to leave, leave". In the weeks that followed, over 35,000 Cubans left the island on boats, the largest exodus since the Mariel boatlift of 1980.[88] What had been a Cuban crisis suddenly became one of U.S. policy towards Cuba, as the administration was caught in a dilemma of how to respond to the large numbers of refugees arriving on the Florida shores. Allowing the new refugees to gain residency would have alienated non-Cuban Americans concerned about immigration, while returning the refugees to Cuba would have alienated the Cuban-American community. The imminent Florida governorship elections increased the pressure on the Democratic administration.[89]

On 19 August, under pressure from Florida politicians, the federal Government reacted to the crisis. President Clinton stated that "illegal refugees from Cuba will not be allowed to enter the United States". He declared that those who were picked up at sea would be taken to the U.S. Naval Base at Guantánamo while those who reached U.S. shores would be apprehended and treated like any other refugees.[90] In an attempt to anticipate the angry reaction of the Miami exiles, the President met the same day with CANF president Jorge Mas Canosa, who publicly supported the plan in return for a tightening of sanctions against Cuba.[91] Flights from Miami were restricted, cash remittances from Miami were cut back and media broadcasts to Cuba were increased.[92]

Initially the policy changes had little effect, and in the following 11 days, 18,344 Cubans left the island, as they were unconvinced that they would not be allowed into the U.S.[93] Within two weeks, the approach approved by Mas Canosa of "kick[ing] out the last leg of the stool"[94] was changed. Secretary of State Warren Christopher announced that a naval blockade was not on the policy agenda and that the U.S. was not seeking the overthrow of Fidel Castro but rather a democratic and peaceful change in Cuba.[95] Talks on migration issues in September resulted in a new agreement, signed by both governments on 9 September. The U.S. Government agreed on a minimum number of 20,000 Cuban migrants to be granted visas, excluding relatives of U.S. citizens. In addition, it agreed to grant additional visas to those Cubans already on a waiting list. In return, the Cuban Government agreed to take action to prevent illegal departures by restoring the "illegal exit" provisions of the penal code.[96]

The new agreement had the effect of ending the massive refugee flows but the problem remained for the U.S. Government of how to process the refugees who had been intercepted at sea following the August policy shift. Six weeks after the refugee crisis ended, there were 23,699 Cubans housed in Guantánamo Naval Base and a further 8,206 in a U.S. military base in Panama.[97] Small numbers chose voluntary repatriation to Havana, but, on 25 October, even this repatriation was temporarily halted after a case was brought by Miami Cubans against the U.S. Government, demanding that the refugees be allowed to apply for admission to the U.S. as refugees. A temporary restraining order halted the repatriation while the case was considered.[98] This in turn was enough to abort discussions about how to speed up the return of refugees between the two governments.[99]

Despite the high stakes in policy terms, putting the Cubans in camps may turn out to have been an exercise in buying time, and time may be running out ... the refugees have become a pawn in a game of advantage between Havana and Washington.[100]

Keeping the refugees in "safe havens" put the U.S. Government under pressure from the Cuban exiles. In addition, it attracted criticism from human rights groups who accused the United States of violating Article 33 of the 1951 UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees under which "no Contracting State shall expel or return (refouler) a refugee in any manner whatsoever to the frontiers of territories where his life or freedom would be threatened ..."[101] Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch argued that the U.S. was violating the principle by refusing to allow Cubans to seek asylum in the U.S. In addition, the U.S. Government was accused of complicity with the Cuban Government's violation of Articles 12 and 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights by curtailing the flow of people and ideas between Cuba and the U.S. and by insisting that the Cuban Government prevent people from leaving Cuba.[102]

However, other options appeared less acceptable. Forced repatriation would have created an even greater outcry, while allowing entry into the U.S. would have damaged the Democrat Party electorally. After an appeals court decision on 5 November, a slow voluntary repatriation continued[103]103, while at the same time the authorities at Guantánamo tacitly allowed some refugees to escape back to Cuba from the base, thus circumventing the bureaucracy which was delaying voluntary repatriations.[104] Flaws in the policy were highlighted by a two-day mutiny in the Panama camps in early December. Over 220 U.S. soldiers and 28 Cubans were injured and around 1,000 refugees escaped prompting a military operation to find those who went missing.[105] Panamanian President Balladares ordered the Cubans out of the country following the incident, leading to a mass deportation to Guantánamo in February.[106]

Continuing talks between Cuban and American officials failed to solve the problem until a secret meeting was held in Toronto on 17 April 1995 between Ricardo Alarcón, President of Cuba's National Assembly, and Peter Tarnoff, U.S. Under-Secretary of State. During a three- hour meeting, the two agreed a new bilateral agreement to put an end to the problem. Under the agreement, the U.S. would admit most of the refugees at Guantanamo. In order to avoid generating a new exodus it was agreed that subsequently "rafters" would be intercepted at sea and repatriated to Havana, if they did not qualify for political asylum. In other words, Cuban refugees were to be treated in the same way as those from other countries in the region for the first time since the Cuban revolution.[107]

The agreement was made public on 2 May 1995, provoking major protests in Miami. On 16 May, a general strike called by exile organizations caused the closure of offices and shops and was followed by an evening rally of 10,000 people.[108] However, despite the protests, the Cuban-American community was clearly split: polls taken in Miami in May showed majority support for the President's new immigration policy. A poll of Cuban-Americans by Florida International University found that while support for sanctions against Cuba and even military invasion remained high, a majority saw dialogue as an acceptable tactic to advance Cuban reform and 46 per cent favoured "the establishment of a national dialogue between Cuban exiles, Cuban dissidents, and representatives of the Cuban Government."[109] One of the reasons for the taboo on changing U.S. policy towards Cuba had been irrevocably removed.


Outside Cuba, there now appears to be more of a consensus that change in Cuba is more likely to arise out of internal reforms than by a collapse of the régime. Such views were confirmed by a Gallup poll in November 1994 which found that 58 per cent of Cubans believe that the Revolution's successes outweigh its failures.[110] Analyses of electoral behaviour in Cuba indicate that an accurate reflection of the size of a genuine opposition constituency is around 19 per cent, a figure accepted by Elizardo Sánchez, Cuba's leading dissident.[111] The ability of the régime to survive the economic upheavals of the last decade suggests that the future may involve a continuing process of reform, ultimately leading to an accommodation with the U.S.

4.1 The Economy Turns the Corner

The economic situation in Cuba ... differs from that of recent years in that there is a new readiness to evaluate critically previous policies and solutions that had proved to be unfeasible in today's world.[112]

Over the last year, the pace of economic reform has accelerated. The long awaited re-opening of the farmers' markets in October 1994 was followed by the opening of markets for privately produced consumer goods on 1 December.[113] Convertible pesos were introduced into hard- currency shops in March 1995 as the first stage of monetary reform.[114] The state employment sector is also in the process of being rationalized in order to cut government spending and reduce deficits.[115]

Foreign capital investment in Cuba is also expected to increase after a new investment law was passed by the National Assembly in September. The new law allows full foreign ownership of businesses for the first time and clarifies laws guaranteeing the repatriation of profits for foreign investors. A separate measure allows citizens and non-residents to deposit convertible pesos in Cuban bank accounts.[116]

The consequence is that Cuba seems to be moving towards a mixed economy with three sectors: a state sector guaranteeing continued provision of social services, a sector consisting of state-supported productive enterprises of varying sizes which are becoming increasingly self- financing and the private sector including local small businesses, joint ventures and foreign owned companies.[117] The resulting potential of the island as an emerging economy has promoted improved relationships with the European Union and Latin America. In March, President Castro visited France as a guest of President Mitterand and announced that the visit marked the end of the U.S.-organized "apartheid" of Cuba.[118] Diplomatic relations have been re-established with Chile after a break of 22 years.[119]

On 26 July, President Castro announced that the economy had grown by 2 per cent in the first half of 1995.[120] While the economy remains fragile in the light of falling sugar harvests and continuing shortages of foreign exchange, the possibility now exists for the first time since the beginning of the decade that the Cuban economy can regain some stability.

4.2 Possibilities of Political Reform

During 1995, a number of measures were taken on human rights issues. The UN Convention against Torture was ratified, a decision was taken to allow a non-governmental human rights delegation on a fact-finding mission to the island, a few high profile political prisoners were released and a second "Nation and Emigration" conference was held with exiles.[121] However, the developments seem to be a response to international leverage related to trade cooperation rather than to internal pressures for reform. For example, the human rights delegation and the subsequent release of political prisoners were the result of requests by the French First Lady Danielle Mitterand during President Castro's visit to France in March.[122]

Indeed, one of the conditions of the improving Cuban relations with the European Union seems to be advances on human rights. For example, Javier Solana has said that the EU "would only sign a cooperation treaty with Cuba if, prior to the signing, Cuba would decree political amnesty and take concrete steps towards democracy".[123] Despite intense negotiations, Cuba is still the only Latin American country that has not signed a cooperation agreement with the EU which has limited its relations with Cuba to a US$ 15 million humanitarian aid package.[124]

When I interviewed Cuban political prisoners in May I met people condemned to five, eight or ten years in prison for as little as writing letters critical of the Government, handing out political pamphlets or painting 'long live democracy' on the walls of a building. If Cuba were seriously engaged in reforming its abusive practices, these people would be released, and the laws under which they were prosecuted would be repealed.[125]

While there is a new climate of discussion within Cuba, particularly among the intellectual classes who are freer than before to call into question aspects of the political system,[126] it remains the case that continuing hostility from the U.S. has so far provided the justification for the lack of a more significant reform.[127]

4.3 A Changing U.S. Policy?

United States policy towards Cuba, which is a pallid remnant of the cold war, is another area where resistance to change, in our view, would seem to be waning. The policy based on the trade and financial embargo against Cuba has increasingly lost support at the international level as well as in broad and significant sectors of the United States.[128]

The pressures on the U.S. administration to remove the embargo against Cuba have grown over the last year with French President Mitterand calling the U.S. embargo outright "stupid"[129] The normalization of Cuba's international relations has continued with OAS Secretary-General César Gaviría calling for the readmission of Cuba into the organization.[130] Within the U.S., in addition to those sectors of the Cuban exile community who favour dialogue, there is an important sector of the business community which favours the removal of the embargo. As early as October 1994, Carlos Lage announced that representatives of 69 U.S. firms had visited Cuba in the previous six months to assess prospects for future investment and to discuss letters of intent.[131] One year later, President Castro was meeting a delegation of U.S. business executives in Havana.[132]

However, the expected change to U.S. policy has yet to happen. In large part, this is a result of the position taken by the Republican-dominated Congress during 1995. On 9 February, Senator Jesse Helms introduced legislation into the Senate to tighten U.S. sanctions against Cuba.[133] The proposed "Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act" would penalize third countries trading with Cuba by reducing their exports to the U.S. It would enable suits to be filed against U.S. subsidiaries of foreign companies with business interests in Cuba and mandate the witholding of all multilateral and bilateral aid until a democratically elected government is in place. Similar legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives by Representative Dan Burton.[134]

The so-called Helms-Burton bill has generated significant opposition from most U.S. allies who argue that the bill would extend U.S. measures beyond U.S. jurisdiction, constituting an illegitimate interference in the policy of third countries as well as a violation of GATT, NAFTA and the rules governing the World Trade Organization.[135] It was also opposed in a letter to President Clinton by an important cross-section of the opposition movements within Cuba itself.[136] President Clinton has himself publicly opposed the new bill.[137]

However, despite threats of a presidential veto announced by Secretary of State Warren Christopher, the Helms-Burton bill was approved by the House of Representatives on 21 September[138] and, in a modified form, in the Senate on 18 October.[139] A joint committee will now attempt to reconcile the two versions. Regardless of the final fate of the bill, the political effect has been to prevent moves to ease the embargo following the change of administration policy on Cuban refugees in May. The only concessions were made in a presidential announcement on 6 October. U.S. news agencies are now allowed to open permanent bureaus in Havana, exchange visits on educational, religious and human rights matters are to be promoted and non-governmental organizations are permitted to carry out a variety of activities within Cuba. The measures will not directly affect the embargo and neither will they abolish the sanctions implemented in August 1994 during the refugee crisis.[140]


A twist of fate has meant that the Revolution's future in some definable form still depends on decisions made in Washington. The ending (or easing) of the embargo will undoubtedly make many of the reforms and measures take effect, and would bring a much needed element of hope to the beleaguered population.[141]

The 36 years of the Cuban revolution have involved a series of transformations from the radical socialism of the guerrilla leaders in 1959 to the struggling welfare state of today. The refugee crisis of August 1994 which seemed like the final hour for President Castro's Cuba has, instead, brought into focus the anachronism of a U.S. policy towards the island forged at the height of the Cold War. As a result, positions have become more polarized between the supporters of the Helms-Burton bill who "make no secret of their intent to foster Castro's overthrow through what Jesse Helms calls 'a final push over the brink'" and those who favour achieving a controlled transition in Cuba by taking advantage of the opening of the country to the influence of the market.[142]

Asylum seekers from Cuba now face the same restrictions as those from neighbouring Caribbean islands. Theoretically, this should not prevent those seeking political asylum from processing their claims within the country. However, economic migration is now severely limited and the new rules applying to Cuban "rafters" have dramatically reduced the number of Cubans intercepted by the Coast Guard on the high seas.[143] The detainees at Guantanamo Naval Base should all reach U.S. soil by March 1996 when the refugee camps are scheduled to close.[144]

It is not inconceivable that the Cuban reform process will lead to the end of the refugee problem in the not too distant future. However, the Helms-Burton bill has the potential to jeopardize what has been achieved. If it becomes law, one possibility is that the Cuban authorities could remove their restrictions on illegal exit from the country again, a move which would create a new refugee crisis for the U.S. federal administration. Another more serious scenario would occur if the implementation of the Helms-Burton bill turned out to be, as its proponents would wish, too much for the Cuban political system to bear. The Cuban transition, which until now, has been a largely peaceful process, could then become a violent one since the Cuban state, unlike those of Eastern Europe, still appears to command a level of support which can match that of its opposition.


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[1] Human Rights Watch/Americas, Cuba: Repression, the Exodus of August 1994, and the U.S. Response (New York, October 1994), p. 8

[2] A. Kapcia, Political Change in Cuba: Before and after the Exodus, Occasional Papers, No. 9 (London: Institute of Latin American Studies, 1995), p. 1

[3] Economist Intelligence Unit, Country Report: Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Puerto Rico, 3rd Quarter 1995 (London, 1995), p. 11

[4] The Guardian [London], Jonathan Freedland, "Reluctant Hosts Fence In Castro", 21 October 1995.

[5] A. Kapcia, The Cuban Revolution in Crisis, Conflict Studies, 256 (London: Research Institute for the Study of Conflict and Terrorism, November/December 1992), p. 3

[6] P. Gunson, G. Chamberlain, A. Thompson, The Dictionary of Contemporary Politics of Central America and the Caribbean (London: Routledge, 1991), pp. 85-6.

[7] Kapcia, The Cuban Revolution, p. 3

[8] J. Habel, Cuba: The Revolution in Peril (London: Verso, 1991), pp. 6 & 33

[9] Ibid., pp. 33-43

[10] Ibid, p. 37

[11] Constitución de la Republica de Cuba, (World Wide Web: University of Texas Latin America Server)

[12] Kapcia, The Cuban Revolution, p. 6

[13] See e.g. T. Borge, Face to Face with Fidel Castro: A Conversation with Tomás Borge (Melbourne: Ocean Press, 1993), pp. 74-5

[14] Kapcia, Political Change, p. 8

[15] Habel, p. 150

[16] Kapcia, The Cuban Revolution, p. 7

[17] Tad Szulc, author of Fidel (New York: Morrow, 1986) quoted in Habel, p. 80

[18] Kapcia, Political Change, p. 9

[19] Amnesty International, Cuba: Silencing the Voices of Dissent (London, December 1992), p. 4

[20] United Nations, Economic and Social Council, Commission on Human Rights, Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Cuba, Prepared by the Special Rapporteur, Mr. Carl-Johan Groth, in Accordance with Commission Resolution 1994/71, E/CN.4/1995/52, 11 January 1995, para. 7

[21] Human Rights Watch/Americas, Cuba: Stifling Dissent in the Midst of Crisis (New York, February 1994), p. 7

[22] UN Commission on Human Rights, Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Cuba, para. 4-6

[23] Amnesty International, Cuba: Hundreds Imprisoned for Dangerousness (London, February 1994), pp. 2-3



[25] Le Monde Diplomatique [Paris], L. Otero, "Le 'bon discours' d'opposition", August 1994

[26] M.P. Sullivan, Cuba: Issues for Congress, CRS Issue Brief, (Washington: Congressional Research Service, 13 May 1994) p. 4


[28] Sullivan, p. 5

[29] Envío [Managua], "Cuba: A Country Without" (January-February 1992).

[30] Gunson et al., p. 261.

[31] Immigration and Refugee Board Documentation Centre [Ottawa], Cuba: Information on an Armed Group of Exiled Cubans Called Alpha 66, (Response to Information Request Number: CUB10721), 13 April 1992 (UNHCR/CDR REFWORLD Databases)


[33] D. E. Schulz, "Can Castro Survive?", Journal of Interamerican Studies and World Affairs, Vol. 35, No.1 (1993), pp. 108-11

[34] J. Elliston, "The Myth of the Miami Monolith", NACLA: Report on the Americas, Vol. 29, No. 2 (September/October 1995), pp. 40-1.

[35] Human Rights Watch/Americas, United States: Dangerous Dialogue Revisited (New York, November 1994), p. 2

[36] Economist Intelligence Unit, Country Profile: Cuba (1995-96) (London, 1995), p. 5

[37] Habel, p. 118

[38] Economist Intelligence Unit, Country Profile: Cuba (1995-96), p. 5

[39] Voice of America, E. Johnson, "Cuba/UN Vote", 2 November 1995 (Human Rights Net/Americas)

[40] Both J. Habel and A. Kapcia take this view in different forms.


[42] Kapcia, The Cuban Revolution, p. 8


[44] Kapcia, The Cuban Revolution, p. 9

[45] Carlos Tablada, quoted in Habel, pp. 153-4

[46] R. A. Dello Buono, "An Introduction to the Cuban 'Special Period'" in R. A. Dello Bueno and J. Bell Lara (Eds) Carta Cuba: Lessons from Cuba's Special Period (Havana: Flacso, 1995), pp. 6


[48] Kapcia, The Cuban Revolution, p. 10

[49] M. Pastor Jr. & A. Zimbalist, "Cuba's Economic Conundrum", NACLA: Report on the Americas, Vol. 29 No. 2 (September/October 1995), pp. 7-12.

[50] Dello Buono, pp. 2-3


[52] Dello Buono, p. 4

[53] Dello Buono, pp. 5-8

[54] Economist Intelligence Unit, Country Profile: Cuba (1995-96), p. 10

[55] Kapcia, Political Change, p. 18

[56] Le Monde Diplomatique, L. Otero

[57] Kapcia, Political Change, p. 10


[59] Kapcia, The Cuban Revolution, pp. 17-18

[60] Kapcia, Political Change, pp. 17-18

[61] Human Rights Watch/Americas, Cuba: Stifling Dissent, p. 3

[62] United Nations, General Assembly, Interim Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Cuba Prepared by the Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights in Accordance with resolution 1994/71 of the Commission and Economic and Social Council Decision 1994/261, A/49/544 (Annex), 19 October 1994, para. 50-1

[63] Human Rights Watch/Americas, United States, pp. 2-3

[64] Interpress Service, Carlos Batista, "Cuba-Exiles: Historic Conference Ends with Modest Agreements", 25 April 1994

[65] P. Brenner & P. Kornblum, "Clinton's Cuba Calculus", NACLA: Report on the Americas, Vol. 29, No. 2 (September/October 1995), p. 34

[66] Sullivan, pp. 5-6

[67] Brenner & Kornblum, pp. 34-5

[68] Kapcia, Political Change, p. 3

[69] Elliston, p. 40.

[70] Elliston, pp. 40-1

[71] Reuters, 26 January 1994

[72] Human Rights Watch/Americas, United States, pp. 2-7



[75] United Nations, General Assembly, Interim Report A/49/544 (Annex), para. 34

[76] Human Rights Watch/Americas, Cuba: Repression, p. 8

[77] Ibid.

[78] The Guardian [London], "News in Brief: Cuba Unveils 'Secret U.S. Report'", 3 March 1994

[79] UN Commission on Human Rights, Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Cuba, para. 36

[80] Kapcia, Political Change, p. 28 (note 5)

[81] Reuters, L. Martin, "Asylum-Seekers in Embassies in Cuba Grow to 149", 16 June 1994

[82] Reuters, F. Kerry, "Cuban Asylum-Seekers Leave Belgian Residence", 30 June 1994

[83] Human Rights Watch/Americas, Cuba: Repression, p. 6

[84] United Nations, General Assembly, Interim Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Cuba Prepared by the Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights in Accordance with Commission Resolution 1995/66 and Economic and Social Council Decision 1995/277, A/50/663 (Annex), 24 October 1995, para. 28

[85] Brenner & Kornblum, p. 35

[86] Human Rights Watch/Americas, Cuba: Repression, p. 8

[87] The Guardian [London], N. Scott, "New Exodus Sinks Policy on Cuba", 19 August 1994

[88] Human Rights Watch/Americas, Cuba: Repression, p. 8

[89] The Washington Post, R.D. Novak, "Back to Cuba", 10 October 1994

[90] International Herald Tribune, "U.S. in Policy Shift Will Turn Back Refugees from Cuba", 20-1 August 1995


[92] Kapcia, Political Change, p. 4

[93] The Washington Post, "How the Refugee Crisis Unfolded", 1 September 1994

[94] Jorge Mas Canosa, quoted in Brenner & Kornblum, pp. 35


[96] BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, "Cuba and USA Issue Joint Communique on Migration Agreement", 12 September 1994, quoting Prensa Latina, 9 September 1994

[97] The Washington Post, W. Booth, "U.S. is Sued for Detaining Cuba Refugees", 25 October 1994

[98] Amnesty International, United States/Cuba: Cuban "Rafters" - Pawns of Two Governments (London, October 1994), p. 4

[99] The Washington Post, D. Williams & R. Suro, "Clinton under Pressure to Resolve Refugee Problem", 27 October 1994

[100] The Washington Post, 27 October 1994

[101] United Nations, Conference of Plenipotentiaries on the Status of Refugees and Stateless Persons, Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, Article 33(1) (UNHCR/CDR REFWORLD Databases)

[102] Amnesty International, United States/Cuba, pp. 10-11; Human Rights Watch/Americas, Cuba: Repression, pp. 12-13

[103] InterPress Service, "Cuba: Repatriation of Refugees from Guantanamo Resumed", 7 November 1994

[104] Reuters, J. Loney, "Escape May be Made Safer for Cuban Refugees", 2 November 1994; Associated Press, N. Winfield, "39 Cubans Escape Guantanamo, Frustrated at Bureaucratic Delays", 7 November 1994

[105] InterPress Service, "EEUU-Cuba: desmienten muertes durante rebelión de balseros", 9 December 1994

[106] Associated Press, "Last Flight of Cuban Boat People to Return to Guantanamo", 20 February 1995

[107] Brenner & Kornblum, p. 33

[108] Associated Press, N. Winfield, "Exiles Walk off Jobs in Protest of Cuba Refugee Policy", 17 May 1995

[109] Elliston, p. 41

[110] Economist Intelligence Unit, Country Report: Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Puerto Rico (1st Quarter 1995) (London, 1995), p. 7

[111] Kapcia, Political Change, p. 16


[113] Reuters, F. Kerry, "New Consumer Goods Stores Open in Cuba", 1 December 1994

[114] Economist Intelligence Unit, Country Report ... (1st Quarter 1995), p. 9

[115] InterPress Service, D. Acosta, "Employment-Cuba: Full Employment is a Thing of the Past", 7 May 1995

[116] Associated Press, "Cuba to Allow Deposits of Foreign Currency in Bank Accounts", 10 September 1995

[117] Kapcia, Political Change, p. 30 (note 13)


[119] Ibid., p. 9

[120] Economist Intelligence Unit, Country Report: Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Puerto Rico (3rd Quarter 1995) (London, 1995), p. 11



[123] El Nuevo Herald, C. A. Montaner, "Castro: Three Strikes and a Lesson", 30 September 1995 (Cubanet)


[125] José Miguel Vivanco, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch/Americas, quoted in Human Rights Watch/Americas, HRW Finds Improvements Without Reform, New York, 9 October 1995 (Press Release) (Human Rights Net/Americas)

[126] United Nations, General Assembly, Interim Report, A/50/663 (Annex), 24 October 1995, para. 57

[127] See, for example, BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, "Foreign Minister Tells Human Rights Conference of 'Isolated Violations'", 10 November 1995, quoting Prensa Latina News Agency, 7 November 1995

[128] United Nations, General Assembly, Interim Report, A/50/663 (Annex), 24 October 1995, para. 53

[129] Associated Press, "French President Says America Maintains 'Stupid Embargo' on Cuba", 26 January 1995

[130] InterPress Service, I. M. Chanel, "Gaviría defiende retorno de Cuba a la OEA", 8 June 1995

[131] Reuters, "Cuba Says U.S. Firms Discussing Letters of Intent", 30 October 1994

[132] BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, "Cuban President Meets Visiting U.S. Business Delegation", 10 October 1995, quoting Radio Havana Cuba, 8 October 1995

[133] Associated Press, G. Gedda, "Helms Takes Aim at Cuba", 8 February 1995

[134] Brenner & Kornblum, p. 38

[135] Brenner & Kornblum, pp. 38-9

[136] Buró de Información del Movimiento Cubano de Derechos Humanos, "Dissidents Opposed to Helms-Burton Act: Letter Written in Opposition to the Helms-Burton Act", 28 September 1995 (Cubanet)

[137] Radio Havana Cuba, "Clinton Considers Helms Bill is Not Necessary", 14 April 1995 (Greennet)

[138] InterPress Service, "U.S.-Cuba: Lower House Approves Tightening Embargo, but Prospects Uncertain", 21 September 1995

[139] InterPress Service, J. Lobe, "U.S.-Cuba: Senate Republicans Throw In Towel on Cuba Sanctions", 21 October 1995

[140] InterPress Service, D. Acosta, "Cuba: U.S. Overtures Viewed as Wolf in Sheep's Clothing", 11 October 1995

[141] Kapcia, Political Change, p. 27

[142] Brenner & Kornblum, p. 39

[143] Caribbean & Central America Report, "Good Results for 'Raft People' Accord", 31 August 1995

[144] New York Times News Service, Mireya Navarro, "Guantanamo", 27 September 1995 (Cubanet)

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