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Far from Fidel

D’ Yves Billon


Cuban immigrants have kept coming to Miami in the past 40 years. From the “gusanos”, the first opponents to Castro’s regime, to the “marielitos” in the 1980’s, to the “balseros” in the 1990’s and to the latest arrivals, who were granted visas.

Miami has become a Cuban town which could easily been regarded as a model of successful integration. But on the other side of the looking glass, there is a tight network of associations and organisations, which prepare the new arrivals to succeed their integration into the American mainstream. As soon as they set foot in the US, they are taken in charge by this system, which provides a comprehensive course to teach them the rules of the society welcoming them. They learn the basics of civics and capitalism : work hard, not be assisted, have an entrepreuneurial spirit, how to buy, how to sell and how to live on credit. The US welcomes about 100,000 new Cuban immigrants every year with advantages, no other communities have and the agreement of Fidel Castro’s regime on top of it. We may wonder why.

The American Cubans are very well integrated but still, they are all torn between feeling nostalgic for their former life, rejecting Castro’s regime and wishing to be American Cubans. Even if some will never go back to Cuba, 70% of Cuban exiles believe that a peaceful transition from Castroism to democracy is possible and that they might play a part in it. This may be their own American challenge.