On one side is the Cuban Adjustment Act, on the other, restrictions on the right to enter and leave the country. In the middle are Cubans desperate to go anywhere. It doesn’t matter how much, or by what means – they are willing to pay whatever it takes in search of opportunities.

There are numerous stories of islanders who put themselves in the hands of smugglers in order to enter the United States without documents. The cost of the journey increases as the system is perfected for suppressing international criminal activity. Today it exceeds $10,000 per person.

The routes are varied: through a third country, or on boats, usually overloaded. The number of shipwrecks is impossible to record, let alone the lives lost at sea. In that sense, international efforts to suppress trafficking in persons are insufficient. Mainly because the national and international interests are not complementary.

For example, the Protocol Against the Illicit Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea, and Air, defines trafficking as facilitating the illegal entry of a person into a State of which the person is not a national or permanent resident, to gain a financial or material benefit. Cuban law has another definition of the term.

Under the Criminal Code, trafficking is the penetration of the territory in order to accomplish the illegal exit of people. The motive is unimportant. They are always inclined to punish whenever there is a profit motive. But they treat trafficking the same, whether done for material or financial gain, or from family sentiments.

For example, the Provincial Court of Havana, in Case 172 in 2008, which sentenced four Cubans, three of whom reside in the United States, stated that “the act of the accused … was motivated by the desire for family reunification, impeded by the tight blockade and continuing violation of the United States government’s immigration policy and the imposition of the Cuban Adjustment Act. ”

For the Cuban justice system it is inconsequential whether money is involved or if the intention is merely to reunify the family. The important thing is to give a warning.

Laritza Diversent

Translated by: Tomás A.

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