Cuban exile is a term used to refer to the movement of some groups of Cuban citizens from the island into the United States. The exodus occurred in two waves, defined by the period it occurred before or after the Mariel boat lift of the 1980s. The first wave in the pre-mariel exile was composed of the upper and middle class of Cuba who fled due to fear of widespread reprisals of the Cuban revolution led by communist Fidel Castro in the late 1950s to 1970s, (Pedraza, 2007). This group settled in Florida. They were escaping to seek political asylum from the communist rule, and they hoped that Castros administration would collapse in the short term. Therefore, their stay in the United States was intended to be temporal. As such, they left most of their belongings in Cuba such as cars and homes under the care of family members and friends until the Castro government fails. However, their hopes were shattered as Fidel continued to rule and forced the confiscation of all property of anyone leaving the island. The second exodus of a large number of refugees came in 1980 and settled in Miami. It is only after this migration that Castro allowed those who wanted to move from Cuba to be allowed.
Castros dictatorship and the Cuban migration affected families of the refugees to a great extent. For a middle-class, 45-year-old mother of 4 children, this environment is one that inflicts fear and concerns for the welfare of her family. In an attempt to safeguard their children from the doctrines of the Communist culture that was being propagated in Cuba, parents sent their children away to the United States. In the years between November 1960 and October 1962, over 14,000 children had been shipped to receive care under the Catholic Church and foster homes across America until the time they would be reunited with their parents, (Mutchler and Poyo, 2010). This was a time when young boys were being recruited in the Cuban armed forces, and young girls were being put in the greatly politized Alphabetization Campaign. Additionally, there was a political crackdown on the opposition that saw the incarceration and execution of the opponents, (Pedraza, 2007). In this kind of this culture, the safety of the children is in compromise and parents would make every effort possible to secure the lives of their children.
In the wake of the Cuban exile, families were thrown into an imbalance. Relatives were forced to live far from each other, for instance, in the case of the children who were sent to the United States by their parents. The refugees left their relatives behind and probably some never reunited again. A middle-aged mother who is separated from her children will experience personal crisis triggered by the constant worries of the safety of the child and the fear of never seeing them again. There was also a possibility that fathers were separated from the rest of the family. This could be so in cases where the husband goes out to seek secure places to later come for the family. The period of separation could be long stirring up worries and anxiety, and in other scenarios, the reunion might not occur due to cases of unforeseen death or restrictions in the country where they seek refuge. When these kinds of situations happen, married women who are also mothers are the ones who get most affected as they naturally tend to be closely connected to their families.
Migration to another country as refugees or otherwise will often result in the introduction to a new culture. The refugees who moved to Florida and Miami during the exile brought with them their culture but had to blend it with the American culture of these states, (JULIO, 2010). To the present, these Cuban refugees make up a large part of the population in Florida and Miami. They have adjusted to the cultural setting of the Americans. A middle aged mother will have mixed feelings about introducing her children into a foreign culture. The children who were sent in America during the Castro regime, without their parents were exposed to the risk of adopting the bad aspects of the new culture, especially because they were without proper guidance of their parents. Difficulties in adjusting could result in delayed progress, and it may take long before they finally settle and put their life together.
Another personal crisis could be of anger and anxiety. Most people want to stay in their home countries where they have grown up and can identify with in all aspects of politics and culture. When circumstances other than their personal wish make them move, there is a big possibility of the feeling of anger. The Cuban exile was a response to an unbearable situation in the home country of the refugees. Most of them, if not all, were forced to look for safety from the dictatorial rule of Castro. The feeling of anger and hatred towards Castro and his administration was immense such that after his death, the Cuban refugees held celebrations in the streets of Miami and Florida. To them, his death marked the end of an era of doom and sparked a ray of hope in a better Cuba. They could finally start erasing the memories of the events that led to their immigration. Unfortunately, many of the generation that first immigrated did not live to see this day that marked the start of their political freedom.
In conclusion, the Cuban exile was one movement that impacted on the citizens of Cuba and America politically, economically and culturally. The refugees in the first wave of the movement were wealthy, and they carried this wealth with them. Unfortunately for some who left their property behind with relatives and friends, they encountered huge losses when the Castro ordered for the confiscation of properties of anyone leaving Cuba. The rich and educated businessmen carried out their ventures in their new found homes, and this impacted positively on the economy of the American States. They also supported a more pro-business platform and in return got support from the Americans. Families were affected too in a big way. Family members were separated with some moving and others being left behind. Some parents who could not move sent their children to America to protect them from the dictatorial rule of Castro, (Pedraza, 2007). This meant that they had to live far from their parents and depend on the hospitality of their hosts in the Catholic Church and other homes. All these happenings are possible causes of personal crisis, especially for mothers and wives.
Eckstein, S. (2009). The immigrant divide: How Cuban Americans changed the US and their homeland. Routledge.
JULIO, C. J. (2010). Queering Mariel: mediating cold war foreign policy and US citizenship among Cubas homosexual exile community, 19781994. Journal of American Ethnic History, 29(4), 78-106.
Mutchler, D. E., & Poyo, G. E. (2010). Cuban Catholics in the United States, 19601980: Exile and Integration.
Pedraza, S. (2007). Political disaffection in Cuba's revolution and exodus. Cambridge University Press.
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