Cuba: The Nation and Emigration conference scheduled for November

Postponed on several occasions — especially when the Covid-19 epidemic affected the entire planet — the IV The Nation and Emigration conference has been announced for November 18 and 19, as announced by Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla.

The number of Cuban emigrants numbers around 2 million throughout the world — especially the community that has settled in the US. The first meeting called for by Fidel Castro in 1978 had less impressive numbers of Cubans living in other countries.

In November and December of that year the process, a dialogue, was started that met with strong resistance within the Cuba’s Communist Party (PCC) itself and in sectors of Cuban society. So much so that Fidel Castro filmed an hours-long video dedicated to partisan militancy.

Today’s reality is completely different when it comes to Cuban society. And I will limit myself to that point. It is enough to see the almost 400,000 compatriots who have decided to leave by any available roads, and the 380,000 Cubans who await the infamous ‘Parole.’ One only has to see the news reports on those returned by the US authorities or from other countries.

Cuba is not the same country as the one of 1978. Neither is the national or international scene. We live a severe internal crisis to which is added a lack of hope that for years has only grown larger. And the tense international reality is far from that of 1978, especially in Washington. And if we add the war in Eastern Europe…

Therefore the IV Meeting has been convened — a good and necessary move where those invited to participate cover a wide spectrum of the components of the country’s emigration.

Progreso Weekly/Semanal talks with Dr. Jesús Arboleya, a recognized expert on Cuban emigration and relations between Cuba and the United States of America.

PW/PS: The Cuban government has just convened the IV Conference on the Nation and Emigration, to be held on November 18 and 19. What is its importance?

Jesús Arboleya (JA): Any exercise of dialogue between the Cuban government and representatives of the country’s emigration constitutes an important event in itself because it is a way of recognizing the importance of emigrants in our national life and the future of the country. It is also a way of seeking consensus formulas within the complex situation that Cuba is going through, since this problem affects Cuban society in many ways. In short, it is the Cuban family that benefits the most from the establishment of normal relations with the emigrants.

PS/PW: Since we are talking about the fourth conference, it is worth taking stock of the three that preceded it.

JA: The conferences have their origin in the “Dialogue with representative figures of the Cuban community abroad,” held in 1978. This event set the guidelines for these meetings, since it meant a qualitative change in the doctrine that governs relations of Cuba with its emigration. It could be said that, until 1978, the doctrine of breaking with the emigrants prevailed, while, from that moment on, not without its ups and downs determined by political conjunctures, the criterion of rapprochement and dialogue with the people who have decided to emigrate from the country has prevailed. Each conference has reflected this interest and advanced this goal. The IV Conference will surely be another step in this process.

PW/PW: So what can we expect from this Conference?

JA: I think that enough progress has been made so that the issues are not focused on specific items which have been resolved by the Cuban government based on the emigrants’ own claims. For this reason, I hope that this Conference will have a more strategic sense and deal with more far-reaching issues. At least that is what can be inferred from the statement by Ambassador Ernesto Soberón, director of the Department of Consular Affairs and Cuban Residents Abroad (DACCRE) of the MINREX, where he mentions the interest in discussing the broader participation of emigrants in the cultural, political and economic life of the country. It could be said that this conference has the opportunity to consolidate the path towards the integration of emigrants into Cuban society, which would be a new, qualitative leap in Cuban immigration policy and its relations with its emigrants.

PW/PS: How do you think this conference would impact Cuba’s relations with the United States then?

JA: Cuban emigrants do not live solely in the United States. Any step aimed at improving their ties with their country of origin can contribute to Cuba’s relations with the host countries. Let’s say that it is also a factor to take into account within Cuban foreign policy. This principle is also fulfilled for the United States, although the counterrevolutionary role assigned by the US government to emigration makes this process extremely difficult. In any case, whatever the policy of the United States towards Cuba, and the use that it assigns to emigration in its plans against the country, bring me back to what Fidel Castro said in 1978 that the issue of relations with emigration is a “national problem” that Cuba should be able to address and face beyond any other consideration.


Cuba’s IV The Nation and Emigration conference scheduled for November

Cuba’s Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez announced on Twitter the upcoming IV The Nation and Emigration conference, which will take place on November 18 and 19 in Havana.

Rodríguez said that the conference is an expression of the government’s unequivocal will to continue deepening ties and dialogue with Cuban citizens living abroad “in defense of our sovereignty and for national development.”

The diplomat recognized the disinterested and permanent support of its emigrants, which in the worst moments of the pandemic sent medical supplies despite the US blockade.

He recalled that the 1978 dialogue, promoted by Fidel, meant the beginning of a continuous and irreversible process of rapprochement between Cuba and its citizens, which has been strengthened with the holding of three conferences of The Nation and Emigration.

The foreign minister added that the meeting will have a special meaning for young people, who, although they were born in other latitudes, identify with and defend the country of their parents and ancestors.

“It will be an excellent opportunity to get closer to their roots,” he stressed.

He stated that, despite the hostility of the United States Government towards the island and the intensification of the blockade, “the natural and inevitable rapprochement of Cuba with its nationals abroad will continue by the will of our people and in the exercise of their free self-determination.” 

Rodríguez asserted that as a result of the development of relations between Cuba and its citizens abroad, the current policies encourage a greater participation of these in the internal processes of cultural and socioeconomic development.

“May this meeting serve as a propitious space to debate and work together for independence, full freedom and the well-being of the homeland,” said the minister.