UM Law's David Abraham looks at worldwide press coverage of Castro’s death and the future of the Cuban Adjustment Act
Last week’s announcement of the death of Cuba’s Fidel Castro brings into question a trove of trade, immigration, and cultural policies. David Abraham of the University of Miami School of Law accesses media coverage and questions the continuation of the Cuban Adjustment Act. Abraham teaches Property, Immigration & Citizenship Law, Citizenship and Identity, Law and the Transition to Capitalism and Law and Social Theory.
Are you surprised by the relentless hostility of American press coverage of Fidel Castro?
Once you poke Uncle Sam in the eye, there is no forgiveness. It is quite remarkable to compare coverage in the United State, from The New York Times on down with coverage in Europe, Latin America, Asia, and elsewhere. Around the world, Castro is admired both for his efforts – even if only partially successful — to create a new and better society in what was a poor, corrupt, racist, and oligarchical old Cuba. Cuba’s highest literacy rate, its achievements in medicine, its aid to the poorest countries around the world — these are things the rest of the world takes note of. For countries rankled by their subordination to their big neighbors, Castro’s Cuba, by its very defiance of its overweening neighbor, has earned respect. Even Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau nodded honestly in this direction. The revolution certainly did not accomplish all it sought to do, but when Cuba is compared to its neighbors, Haiti, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, Cubans have a lot to be proud of.
Do you think there will be changes made to the Cuban Adjustment Act?
For over half a century the Cuban Adjustment Act has acted as a magnet drawing Cubans to the United States where they could almost immediately become permanent residents. This benefit was unique in the world of immigration and was intended to sap Cuba of its educated middle class and undermine the Cuban state. It succeeded in doing that as well as in creating, especially in Miami, a reservoir of political activists focused on toppling the Cuban government and contributing to the worst skullduggery of the Cold War. Aside from the inherent unfairness of this privilege, the CAA has of late become less popular, oddly enough with the most anti-Communist politicians above all. In recent years, beneficiaries of the act have been ordinary economic migrants seeking a better life in the US. These folks have not been anti-Castro; they return to the island with great regularity, and they have not felt indebted to the Miami Cuban elite and its political projects. Their behavior has raised the question: if you are constantly going back there, how dangerous and oppressive could it be? Given the current strong anti-immigrant sentiment in the US, the usual backers of special benefits for Cubans have lost political allies, and the CAA may die a slow death with Castro’s passing as an excuse.