PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. – Cubans will now be able to travel to Nicaragua without any visa requirements. Word of this change has made its way around the island, creating hope for many who are desperate to leave. It would allow entry to Central America, which would help Cubans make it north, to possibly cross the United States, Mexico border.
From Havana, opposition leader Manuel Cuesta Morua says this is one autocratic government helping another. He believes the western hemisphere should keep a watchful eye.
Cuba expert Michael Bustamante says this change in Nicaraguan migration policy follows a summer of political unrest on the communist island, that is already sitting in a deep economic crisis.
“They can go to Nicaragua directly, enter without a visa and then start working their way north,” said Bustamante.
The U.S. Embassy in Havana has been closed since 2017, following the alleged attacks, which resulted in what is now called the “Havana Syndrome.” The closure has prevented thousands of Cubans from coming to the United States legally.
Cuban expert and former University of Miami professor Andy Gomez says we have seen it three times before.
“The Cuban government has always been very good where there is social pressure as we see it now, they lift the top of the pressure cooker and let some of the pressure escape,” said Gomez.
In 1965, a similar situation occurred with the Camarioca Boatlift. 41-years-ago, there was the massive exodus known as the Mariel Boatlift and in the mid 1990′s, the rafter crisis.
“This gives Cuba the opportunity to get rid of those that participated in the protests...that are not happy, that have been critical of the Cuban government,” said Gomez.
Experts also believe this is a way for the Cuban government to push the United States to talk about migration and reopening the embassy in Havana.