The Cuban Exodus–a Taste of Freedom

The Cuban Exodus–a Taste of Freedom

An exodus is not yet a revolution. In the case of Cuba, it comes as evidence of desperation and geographical convenience. Where the Hungarians and Czechs had to face Russian tanks, the Cuban escapees face Castro’s wrath, hazardous waters in less-than-reliable craft, gougers, and a government welcome to these shores that blows hot and cold.

The few of us who were at the small gathering that was addressed by Huber Matos, reported briefly in the last Dissent, were deeply impressed. He spoke quietly and gravely about widespread disaffection in Cuba. Matos is hardly the sort to make wild guesses about impending revolution. Yet, he spoke of hundreds of thousands who were fed up with political repression, economic chaos. But “believing is seeing,” and in the last few weeks we have been seeing it for real, beyond anything he
said.

What began as a small surge to get out has swelled to an immense, almost frantic, mass movement. Castro and his Russian masters had to be dismayed, and then tried to turn it to their advantage by overwhelming the United States with more refugees than it might be willing to ,take in, maliciously pushing criminals, the mentally ill, and probably some spies into the often leaky boats. But he may now find the joke turned sour. Tens of thousands willing to take any chance, including drowning (and some have)—that doesn’t speak very well for the blessings of “Cuban socialism.” None of this suggests that his regime is in imminent danger of collapse. But it does bespeak contagion and, unlike soldiers, the infection cannot simply be shipped off to Angola.

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Lima