The dark side of migration

por Yasvily Méndez Paz

With her face covered so it won’t show on camera and her voice faltering with grief, a Cuban young woman of only 22 years of age retells her hellish journey of migration to reach the ‘American dream’. Along with other women, men and children, she left Havana legally for Guyana, and their nightmare began when they set out on the ‘Central American route’ heading north. After much labor, accompanied by the pushes and shoves of several coyotes, they managed to get to Mexico. Turned into merchandise and exposed to all sorts of outrages, their lives depended on how much their nearly gringo relatives up north were willing to pay. She made it, but she didn’t hear about the rest…, she was too afraid to look back.

In Cuba, illegal migration is not a new phenomenon. Illegal routes have fluctuated depending on measures, policies and historical situations. In January 2017, the Barack Obama administration cancelled the ‘wet feet, dry feet’ policy. Along with that, the Department of Homeland Security announced a package of measures related to the issue of migration which constituted important steps to ‘guarantee regular, safe and organized migration’. However, illegal migration persists. Migratory routes have changed gradually, and hundreds of Cubans have been deported from countries in Central and South America and from Mexico for being illegal immigrants. Because of illegal human trafficking, some have not lived to tell their stories, and others are stranded in a sort of legal limbo in several parts of Mexico.

According to BBC News Mundo, Cuidad Juarez has become crowded with a multitude of migrants swarming in its streets. The renowned news portal informs us about the policy established by the White House that those seeking asylum in the US should wait in that Mexican city until they are called north of the border, depending on their turn in a list which, in mid-July, had over 17 000 names.

The United Nations General Assembly has requested the cooperation of involved states and international organizations in order to improve the governance of migration and generate policies which lead to a legal course providing for the ‘human rights perspective’; however, this hasn’t been observed in an optimum way. On the other hand, Donald Trump’s government creates new barriers for legal migration to the United States. The regulations are based on denying visas, permanent residency and citizenship to those legal migrants who may become a ‘public charge’. The foreigners who want to reside in the North American country must be able to support themselves, for the aid programs provided by the State should be reserved for nationals. Some sectors of American society have shown their disagreement with the above-mentioned measure, such as New York’s Attorney-General, who has considered it ‘yet one more example of his Administration turning its back on people fighting to make a better life for them and their families’, according to BBC News Mundo.

As Dr. Ana Elizabeth Villalta Vizcarra —a member of the Inter-American Juridical Committee— well says, the reasons for migration at a worldwide level can be ‘multiple, complex and heterogeneous’, but in the case of Latin America and the Caribbean, the ‘economic factor constitutes the main cause, as well as the development gaps between the country of origin and the country of destination, the imbalances in the labor markets of our countries, and the natural aspiration of people to overcome poverty and inequality.’

The North and the South —seen in their entirety as social and political realities in the style of Roberto Fernández Retamar— have been structured through historical, socio-economic, cultural and political relations, where the pairing wealth versus poverty has played a fundamental part. The inequalities between the so-called developed and underdeveloped countries widen excessively, and each day a greater number of people live in a situation of poverty.

That’s the way things are with the gaps between the North and the South —the dark side of migration. The organized crime networks fill their pockets at the expense of innocent lives who, in search for desires, illusions and hopes, put their lives at risk striving for an uncertain and unknown fate.

(Translated from the original)