CUBA: THE RISING SPECTER OF ILLEGAL MIGRATION

Created: 5/11/1994

OCR scan of the original document, errors are possible

Directorate of

Intelligence Memorandum roiA

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Office of African and Latin American/ o

4

Cuba: The Rising Specter of Illegal Migration

Summary

Cuban migration to the United States is at its highest levelled in the Mariel boatlift:

Moreeaborne refugees arrived tn Floridaanuary andercent more than during the same period last year.

sylum seekers reached Guantanamo in the first four months of / 6 percent more than during the same period in

Although Cuba's steep economic iWiini* sparked the escalated migration, it has been fanned by reduced, spasmodic patrolling of the coastline and foreign volunteer efforts to assist those fleeing the island.

Havana is trying toalance between allowing enough migration toelease valve for popular frustration, while at the same lime preventing an unchecked flow that might threaten the regime's control.

The increase in seaborne arrivals will probably continue to be pronounced, although tightened security around Guantanamo may reduce arrivals there.

Based on current trends, as many0 Cubans could request asylum in the Uniled States this year. Over the short term, however, chances for another mass migration along the lines of0 Mariel exodus remain slim.

DATE;5

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Tbe flow of Cuban migrants is at its highest level in years.

The number who trekked by sea to Florida in the first four monthsercent above the same period the previous year; the totaleaborne arrivals3 wasercent above2 level.

sylum seekers arrived at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in the first trimester ofpercent more lhan during the same periodhat yearigrants reach Guantanamo, the highest yearly total

Illegal migration to other Caribbean destinations,raction of the total outflow, bas also increased significantly. Last yearecord for defections worldwide of Cuban Government and cultural figures as well. F

Why the Cubans Are Leaving

The continuing, severe economic downturn probably accounts for the sharpillegal departures. Most individuals who left tbc island wereeryor were unemployed; many report that they saw no future for themselveschildren in Cuba had they remained. The overwhelming majority avoidreasons for iheir decisions lo leave [he island, slating simply that "things

"Political" differences with President Fidel Castro's regime are rarely the decisive factorecision to flee. According4 Miami Herald surveyewly arrived Cubans,ercent had ever spent time in jail. Moreover, other such interviews lead us to believe that most of those individuals probably were incarcerated for relatively minor infractions. Tbc few Cubans that Havana termsof dissident or human rights groups, forwish to stay on the island to promote their cause; when they leave, they almost always are allowed to depart legally. I-

Although the country's economic troubles are largely responsible for the current wave of emigration, lax patrolling of Cuba's coastline by the paramilitary Border Guardresult of shortages of fuel and sparebeen an additional catalyst. While the random nature of TGF patrols can worketerrent to departures, vigilance bas been so greatly reduced that it no longer has much of an impact. Most emigres agree that TGF vessels pot to sea irregularly and mainly when in possession of specific intelligenceroup is attempting escape. Havana recently admitted that the Border Guard now has no air assets of its own; moreover,

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A Typical Balsero

adults lhal illegally flee the island by sea to Florida fit Ihe following profile;

More thanercent are mate; most of these are married but leave their spouses behind

Roughlyoercent of arriving females are married, having departed Cuba with their husbands.

The most common age is20s; from one-third to two-thirds were born in.

A plurality received high school or technical school education;oercentniversity.

Most were employed in manual labor or technical fields; betweenndercent were unemployed when they departed.

More than half depart in groups of between twon small boats (less thaneet) or rafts.

miliiary air sorties on TGF-style missions are relatively inirequenL Personnel on foot patrols are increasiogly apathetic and witting to look the other way in exchange for hard currency bribes. P

Stepped-up foreign monitoring and reporting of Cuban migration efforts also deserves considerable credit for boosting the flow, in our opinion. Brothers to tbeiami-based humanitarian group foundedends pilots aloft over ihe Straits of Florida in search of Cuban rafters, transmitting their positions to the US Coast Guardhe group now fields several planes most days of the week. On-island Cubans have heard not only about the group's existence but also that flights often come very close to Cuban territorialmereiles from shore. Wc believe that many who attempt illegal departure by sea do so because they think thai this volunteer group's efforts have increased their chances for survival in what traditionally hasery risky undertaking.1!

- WtBcllev.iwioItyKjubta uxzac-tdrpm co nto about, two orprataMy mcwafi*bytteaky torn* oaic* tooOx* mdio me v. anpro-rd. toimkiRiicue Tbeybive spoutdgrt*o* ilanOe US

word bas been spreading rapidly intelephone, US radio broadcasts, and word ofthe increase in the number of Cubans that survive the voyage.

Regime Reaction

Havana is attempting toalance between allowing illegal migration sufficient to serveelease valve for popular frustration, while preventing an unbridled expansion that could allow events to spin out of control:

On the first score, the government has markedly moderated its rhetoric against those deciding to flee. In frank public reviews of the issue, Havana disclosed USCG statistics on the exact number of rafters arriving in the United States, and noted that illegal emigrationatural and understandable phenomenon throughout the world, and one that Cubans undertake forThis switch from previous characterizations of rafters as counterrevolutionary "worms" is indicative of efforts toat times, even tacitlydisgruntled Cubans to leave the country. Individuals caught in the act of illegalif it is the firstprosecuted less often than before and generally are given minor

At tile same time, the government is clamping down in areas where illegal departures have accelerated, particularly aroundthe number of asylum seekers reaching the base escalated more than fourfold2 to

. To curb the outflow

government bas extended tne tightly controlled "Frontier Zone"

around the base u>kilomctcr radius, augmented Frontier Brigade troops with the military's elite Special Troops, more lhan tripled the police force in Guantanamo City, and increased guard posts and checkpoints in other nearby cities. These measures appear to havearked effect Although arrivals at Guantanamo from January through4 are higher than during the same timeear earlier, they generally have totaled less than one-third the level reached during the last months

Outlook and Implications for the United States

Economic desperation and Havana's faltering interception capabilities will drive greater numbers of Cubans to attempt to leave the country in increasingly bold and inventive ways.

Rtgional Reception

Increasing numbers of Cubans are fleeing, al least initially, to nontraditional destinations, especially The Bahamas, ihe Cayman Islands, the Dominican Republic, and Mexico,

Moreubans arrived in Nassaup fromigures4 are even higher; many Cubans transit the country without Bahamum intervention,

ubans have escaped to George Town in recent years, inundating the tiny country.

Santo Domingo's migration statistics are weak, bul hundreds of Cubans probably transited the country tnsing fake passports and visas or. less often, arriving by ship. Moreubans who first landed in the Caymans subsequently flew to the Dominican Republicoping to eventually reach Florida.

Mexico City's recent troubles with Cuban migrants dateew boatloads reached the Yucatan. Tru? Mexican Navy rescued two groups of roughlyubans each in April.

Ever larger groups will set out to sea.

Growing numbers will leave tho island with the aid ofCuban and foreign.

Brazen efforts to securestealing TGF or Navywill increase, raising the chance* for violent clashes between emigres and security forces.

While steadily increasing, the "rest-of-Caribbean" tallyraction ofnumber of Cubans ending up in the United Slates. Highly publicizedCubans in these countries tend lo promote an inflated picture of the extentAlmost all Cubans who leave the island desire to reach themost eventually succeed. Navigation and mechanical failures, as wellweather, traditionally account far most of the voyages that stray farFlorida. Attempts to make treks shorter, safer, and more assuredmore recent stopoffs at Bahamian islands such as Caya fewfrom Cuba's shore and only one-third the distance between Havana and

creative methods to depart the country will beinclude windsurfing to Florida andruck-mounted water tank for maritime transport to arrive at Guantanamo. Q

At current rates,0 Cubans could arrive in the United States by sea and via Guantanamo inmore than twice last year'swith the spike in seaborne arrivals most dramatic. Tbe influx of asylum seekers at Guanianamo may taper off thisrise onlytighter security measures remain in effect. Greater numbers will continue to arrive in other countries throughout tbe Caribbean. [ I

We nevertheless judge that under current conditions in Cuba the chances for another mass migration along the lines of0 exodus remain slim:

a regime-sponsored mass departure of citizenry could very well exacerbate existing destabilizing trends, something the Castro regime might not be able to survive at this point, given the significant weaknesses brought onlailing economy.

2any cumok of US*tt* ropwulbie tor tnaportat <he KO. of Cuoont u> Flortdi lohemta(nr^arMog thed UgoilWmly Uw ihr number of tannaxtm.tcO ouatfm of bow, tad US maoritita raM probablyor tak thereaaiOt to ratitjcMa. preventing Dun ft era moling trot than our voyage.!

However, we cannot rule out the possibility that domestic eventselief that the country was close toprompt many on the island to decide quickly toeparture by sea. With hole notice, those on the northern coastercent of all seaborne migrants traditionally hailusurpmall and medium-sized boats and embark00 people, [

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