The "Wet Foot/Dry Foot" policy is an open invitation for other countries to treat Cuban exiles as inhumanely as the U.S. does and even to refine upon its abuses. The Mexican government, the world's most venal enterprise, private or public (and that includes Wall Street), has just signed a migratory agreement with the Castro regime that effectively puts an end to all migration between the two countries. Of course, the traffic has been one-way since 1959: even the most wretched Mexican knows more about Communist Cuba than his government pretends to know and would never think of fleeing the misery of home for the uber-misery of Cuba.
It is Cuban refugees, who lately have been using Mexico as a conduit to the U.S. to evade the predations of the Coast Guard in the Florida Straits, that are targeted in the Cuban-Mexican agreement. Although not a signatory the U.S. will also be gratified by its draconian provisions. It is a rare agreement indeed which pleases both the Castro regime and the U.S. government. It's not clear what it does for Mexico's "national integrity" because Cuban migrants have no intention of remaining in that country for more than a few days since to progress from slavery to freedom does not require a long immersion in its tepidarium of a democracy.
The new treaty stipulates that all Cuban refugees who make land in Mexico will be regarded as fugitives and will be returned upon capture to Castro's tender mercies. This would be nothing less than tragic were Mexican authorities not so corrupt or Mexican law less malleable. But since the Castro regime is not paying a bounty for each captured Cuban, it may yet be possible to deprive it of its quarry. As an additional provision for any improvised excursion on the high seas Cuban refugees should now bring with them with at least $100 with which to bribe the federales. I should caution any Cubans, even U.S. citizens or residents, to be very wary of travelling to Mexico without copious amounts of disposable income since I am sure that they won't be too punctilious in verifying the legal status of anyone who looks or sounds Cuban. In other words, unless you want to be repatriated to Cuba in chains, don't even think of vacationing in "México lindo y querido."
The history of Mexican-Cuban relations is as long and complicated as the history of U.S.-Cuban relations. It is characterized, on our part at least, by honorable actions and unconditional friendship, and on the part of the Mexican government by opportunism and betrayal.
Cuba, more than the U.S., always provided a home to Mexican democrats on the run from their less democratic countrymen. Benito Juárez found refuge there and lived to save his country from recolonization by the French. During the Mexican Revolution, the Cuban government, at the instance of its ambassador, Manuel Márquez Sterling, sent a frigate to rescue President Francisco Madero and convey him and his cabinet to safety in Cuba. Madero declined to avail himself of Cuba's good offices and was subsequently executed with his vice-president by counter-revolutionary forces, which then established the world's first one-party state (which lasted longer than the Soviet Union).
Mexico also played a notable role in Cuban history. Porfirio Díaz gave $10,000 to José Martí in 1895 to help underwrite Cuba's War of Independence against Spain, but when the U.S. intervened, ostensibly on the side of Cuba, and what had been a regional conflict turned into the Spanish-American War, Díaz had a change of heart and switch his allegiance to Spain, even offering the Spanish fleet refuge in Mexican ports despite the great danger which this posed to his country's security. The revanchist spirit against the U.S. took precedence, as usual, over Mexico's continental obligations and even its own best interests. This would happen again in the next century in response to Fidel Castro and the threat which he posed to Mexico and the entire hemisphere.
Except for the U.S. no country did more to bring Castro to power and keep him there. It was from Mexico that Fidel Castro re-launched the Cuban Revolution in 1956 with the knowledge and support of the Mexican government. The anti-American character of Castro's revolution guaranteed it Mexico's unconditional support, which, in turn, spared its ruling oligarchs from the threat of a Castro-backed insurgency. For 50 years Mexico has ridden the Castroite tiger and it is still afraid to get off. The latest migratory accord shows that it has no intention of ever getting off. Its reasons now, of course, are not limited merely to the vicarious satisfaction which Mexican nationalists derive from Castro's needling of the United States. It is a matter of economics as much as politics. Before the Revolution, Cuba's GNP was the 3rd largest in the Western Hemisphere. Mexico, despite oil reserves larger than Saudi Arabia's, lagged far behind. A democratic and capitalist Cuba, competing with Mexico in a host of areas, and, primarily in tourism, is not in Mexico's national interest.
Just as the U.S. continues to do everything in its power to guarantee Cuba's "stability" even if this means collaborating with the regime in suppressing the Cuban people's right to freedom, so Mexico, no less mercenary in its intentions towards Cuba, has a vested interest in keeping her hobbled by an economic system that renders Cuba incapable of competing with it.
I have always been a friend and sympathizer of the Mexican people and defended them from the xenophobic attacks of their enemies in this country. I will continue to do so despite this latest infamy because the first victims of the Mexican government are the Mexican people.
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